100 Shows of 2010 - #9: Fanfarlo @ The Norva, 3/30/10

It is a long, long way from here to Norfolk, my friends. A very long way. But the endless stretches of highway were certainly not enough to keep me from seeing the band that made the best record of last year (in my humble opinion), so drive and drive and drive I did. And I tell you what. It was so worth it, I'd do it all again tomorrow. In a heartbeat. Fanfarlo is worth any distance.

MINI RECAP: Fanfarlo = splendiforous! Overall score: A.

The crowd was, shall we say, a bit sparse (though seeing as The Norva is pretty cavernous, the crowd size just might have seemed a bit smaller than it was in actuality). Located in what appears more of a Hollywood set than an actual city, The Norva is still a pretty good venue. I arrived just in time to assume a good observing position and catch my breath before the band strolled onstage. Decked out in lovely, springy pastel button downs (on the menfolk), the band gets points for choosing a look and going all the way with it. Though I'm just not sure about Simon's day-glo socks and the tucking therein of his pants into said socks. The music, however, was far less questionable.

Opening with "Drowning Men," the sound immediately came across as vibrant and crisp. Some bands are just impeccable live, Fanfarlo being one of this type. Simon Balthazar's soaring vocals play so nicely with the large sound created by the rest of the band, through trumpeting and keyboards and violins...it's such a beautiful noise. The driving "I'm a Pilot" was up next, a glorious wash of enchantment. Lone lady of Fanfarlo, Cathy, proclaimed that The Norva was a lot like America, "vast" and with "lots of empty space," as she enouraged "population density" towards the front of the room. "Finish Line" followed this request, and yet again was sublime. I'm sure by this point I was grinning like an idiot. But what else do you do when your favorite album of an entire year is done so perfectly right in front of your eyes?

A rousing rendition of "Harold T. Wilkins, or How to Wait for a Very Long Time" was next up. As I looked around The Norva, I saw reflections of what was probably on my face - tons and tons of awe-struck, mesmerized faces (and some crazy dancers). Also finding their way into the incomprably transcendent set: "The Walls Are Coming Down," "Fire Escape," an especially gorgeous version of "Comets," and a sped-up, very jaunty take on "Luna." After a very, very brief time away from the stage, the band was urged back to the stage by the very vocal little crowd, for what Simon called "one more before bedtime." That one more was a stunning rendition of "Ghosts," and it (and the entire set) had me leaving Norfolk feeling as happy as the cat that got that darn canary.

Fanfarlo live was even better than I had expected (and believe me, my expectations weren't exactly low). The band was affable and personable and charming, and they played with a natural grace and elegance that few bands are lucky enough to possess. It was a night of heavenly music, and I am so very glad to have been there. And should you happen to see them live, I recommend picking up one of their delightful little Fanfarlo sweatshirts, done up in a sort of retro ski sweater style. Other bands couldn't pull that kind of merch off, you know.

mp3: Comets (Fanfarlo from Reservoir)


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