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The Mynabirds At Mercury Lounge, Saturday, June 22nd, 2012 Reviewed

Laura Burhenn is like a chick  who doesn't really like the way you're fucking her and so won't stop dropping  hints. It is past one am in the morning and the Mynabirds leader is making making us feel bad. "Wow you are so quiet." Laura says. "You aren't making any noise…" "If you want to dance, you can if you want to"…." , "You can dance a little bit if you want to, it's cool, do it…", "You're so smart and so quiet…" "It is Friday night, maybe you need some whiskey, maybe if we bought everybody shots…"

Laura has been in the business for years, you would think she'd know what the problems are neither in the set nor in the fans, it is in the timing . And despite my trashing of her band the Mynabirds  new album, Generals, it sure wasn't her. It was too late for that sort of set.  Even when the band is bringing it as MBs were Friday night, Saturday morning, with a perfect and pretty (though not quiet) hour long set, it wasn't dance, folks weren't on ecstacy and I for one had been up since 430am.

The late night set was a  mix of her last two albums, Laura's singing was vigorous and her organ pounding just enough to make sure you were absolutely certain she could play i well if never enough to distract from her role as front woman. The rest of the band were find but background except for Rebecca Marie Miller, a multi instrumentalist and back up singer who  shares the burden!

I love a well constructed set and this one is a classic, and except playing  "Generals"a song too early, I wouldn't change a thing. The Mynabirds new album is their first for Saddlecreek and not as good as the one before it, the soul rocker What We Lose In A Fire., We Gain In The Flood, but what really sinks it is the politics, The problem isn't left or right wing, the problem is language and direction. She may be very nice, but she comes across as condescending, and her quasi-hippie come together sentiments are a drag. It pulled me out of the album, and except for a couple of tracks, all played tonight, the songs weren't strong enough.

Because of the way the stage at Mercury Lounge is set up, back stage is at the other end of the room, we get the encore without an encore, a triple threat killer, "Fire", "Numbers Don't Lie" and "Generals".Whether you consider "Fire" an axiom or a tautology, it is a soul classic and perhaps the Mynabirds  best recorded moment, Laura performs it with ache and bravado. On stage "Numbers Don't Lie", soul via the Brit Invasion was, along with the earlier singalong "Radiator Sisters (see? What was she complaining about?) was the evenings best moment and the penultimate "Generals" was just as great as on the record (and, really, the one time she got the politic/polemic axis down),  This is a case of holding back all your fire power to the end, and if the rest of the sey hadn't been pretty terrific to start with, it might have backfired. But the set hadn't been real good, and then Laura just blew us away. 

As for Laura, I have a friend whose band opened for her once and his impression was that she was polite but cool. Like all the Saddlecreek gang, she treats people as though they aren't quite in enough for her. Saddlecreek are like the Hells Angels: either you are up with the Creek or you aren't.  On stage it took me a couple of songs to warm up to her because 1) her animal hat was dumb, 2) she was prettier in person than in pix and 3) she was actually nicer than I thought she'd be. Indeed, it is so hard to be really nice on stage, and despite her whingeing, I liked her. And so did the audience. She was sweet toi her band, sweet to the opening band, and wanted us to enjoy ourselves more though we were enjoying ourselves fine.

So, I guess I underestimated her new album and enjoyed seeing the band in such small quarters but I won't dance so don't ask me

Grade: B+

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