Yo La Tengo show how to make good music by relying on good taste. They look like they're not really trying very hard. The vocals - especially when Georgia is singing - are indistinct. Their songs don't give up their secrets easily (and the muddy acoustic of the Shepherds Bush Empire doesn't help). But they choose their sounds (muted guitar, unusual percussion etc), their grooves (gentle latin, jazz), their cover versions, and their influences very well.
Last night's gig wasn't them at their best. They played my two favourite songs in the second encore, and crapped on them both. But they still structured their set really well. They make the boring bits count. And that is a real craft. The show kept the same pleasant, low-key tempo for almost an hour, but when it took off and really started to move the journey was that much more visceral for having stood still so long. And I do like those cranked-up unhinged guitar maulings, backed by hypnotic rhythms. There aren't many bands who sound like Girl from Ipanema one moment and the Boredoms the next.Posted by David Jennings in section(s) Cultural Calendar, Reviews on 7 May 02003