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Published: 2003/02/17
by Dan Greenhaus

The New Deal, Bowery Ballroom, NYC- 2/14 & 15

What can one say about The New Deal and New York City? It seems that every
time the band plays here, they bring out the best in the crowd, which in
turn, brings out the best in the band. Don’t get me wrong, the band is not
incapable of playing a bad show, or having bad moments, however both of
those instances always seem to be minimized in New York City, and
specifically at the Bowery Ballroom. After some hit and miss shows at
Irving Plaza, the band has settled in at the Bowery, thoroughly enjoying and
taking advantage of one of the best-sounding venues in the whole city. In
fact, last time they played here, the band dropped some of the most
inspirational live performances they’ve ever done, resulting in a live album
that captures the band at the top of their game. And this time around, the
band informed the crowd that the last time they were here was no fluke.

This weekend, once again, it was "Technobeam" that stole the show. Played
during the second set of the second night, the song continues to drive
crowds into overdrive all across the country. The band is now totally
capable of segueing into the song out of virtually every other song in their
repertoire, and on this night, it was "G-Nome", during which the lights were
nothing short of amazing, as they were all weekend. The band has added a
crystal ball at the back of the stage which, when lit up, instantly turned
the room into a dancehall. The driving techno of "Receiver", "G-Nome" and
"Technobeam" were each a microcosm of the two shows, as the band constantly
bombarded the crowd with sounds and rhythms usually reserved for clubs. Of
course, the band is perfectly able to slow things down, and they did
repeatedly, notably on "Home Wrecker", however it was the full on, full
steam "rage" (aided by some well-used strobe lights) that pleased the crowd
the most.

What is also worth noting is the band’s seemingly newfound stage presence.
While there was a time that the audience chose to focus on one member, this is
no longer the case. Whether it is bassist Dan Kurtz’s rhythmic swaying and
playful antics with the crowd, keyboardist Jaime Shields’ patented
"tomahawk chop", or Darren Shearer’s incessant and pulsating drum work, it’s
hard to take your eyes off The New Deal when they are on stage, and each
member garners his own fair share of the attention. And now the
band has finally added a lighting director capable of adding something to
the already powerful live show. For improvisational music, there is a
symbiotic relationship that will always exist between the music and the
lights. As the music being created on stage moves, so should the lights and
The New Deal finally have a lightman who is able to move with them,
something that has infinitely improved an already top-notch live show.

The band wrapped up their two night stand at the Bowery at 2:00 in the
morning with "Gone, Gone, Gone", yet another of the new songs sure to make
it onto the upcoming album. You would’ve never known it was the last song
of the run judging solely by the energy and fury with which the band played.
And it is that energy and fury that is almost forcing people to see this
band over and over again. One cannot deny that it is difficult for a band
with no lyrics to forge a bond with an audience, however The New Deal
continue to do so on a nightly basis. And judging by the audience’s
reaction this weekend at the Bowery, The New Deal seem to be doing a lot of
things right.

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