She & Him nicely outshine their records at The Mann, but with mixed results (photos, review, setlist)

She & Him | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

She & Him | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

All photos by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

American indie duo She & Him made a stop at Philadelphia’s Mann Center for the Performing Arts as a part of their tour supporting their 4th studio album, Volume 3, released this past May. The unlikely duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward was accompanied by a full live band, and performed not only songs from their 3 volumes of original music, but covers of a variety of artists including Frank Sinatra, Sonny West and Chuck Berry, as well as some of M. Ward’s own music. The fusion of Deschanel’s rich vocals and Ward’s airy guitar embellishments come together rather nicely onstage, possibly even more so than on their recordings.

Notably off their new record, fans enjoyed tracks such as “I’ve Got Your Number, Son”, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” (Mel Carter cover), “Never Wanted Your Love” and “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”. These more recognizable tunes (“This is Not a Test” included) certainly made for the show’s highlights, but the group struggled to sound quite as poised on their more obscure songs. This, in large part, explained the seeming trend of fans leaving not midway into their performance, diminishing an already small crowd.

Zooey Deschanel’s songwriting combines well with a voice that is, at times, truly excellent, and M. Ward’s knack for arranging and producing a song. It makes for an interesting pitch, but was ultimately a tough sell. The ability to captivate an audience was certainly there, yet fleeting, begging the question of whether or not She & Him can consistently deliver the results one would expect given their collective talent.

Joining She & Him was Scottish indie pop band, Camera Obscura who, in my book, stole the show. Not only was their mix better, but their sound was altogether tighter and more self-assured. Coincidentally, Camera Obscura has been produced by fellow Glaswegian Stuart Murdoch, a founding member of Belle & Sebastian, who you can catch performing at the Skyline Stage at The Mann this evening.

Setlist
I Was Made for You
I’ve Got Your Number, Son
Together
Baby
Over It Over Again
Never Wanted Your Love
Take It Back
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (Mel Carter cover)
Change Is Hard
I Thought I Saw Your Face Today
You Really Got A Hold On Me (The Miracles cover)
Stars Fell on Alabama (Frank Sinatra cover)
Unchained Melody (Alex North cover)
Turn To White
Ridin’ In My Car (NRBQ cover)
I Could’ve Been Your Girl
Don’t Look Back
Rave On! (Sonny West cover)
Magic Trick (M. Ward song)
This Is Not a Test
In The Sun
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here

Encore:
Sunday Girl (Blondie cover)
Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover)
Sweet Darlin’

  • Larry Farmer

    Have to agree with the review. A lot of potential, but never fully realized. Zooey Deschannel impressed with solid musical chops. Both bands, however, struggled with excellent acoustics of the venue: booming bass tones dominated and vocals, punched up to compensate, were over-driven to distortion.

  • Josh Iverson

    I think this reviewer is being a bit critical, though I suppose that’s his job. I’m admittedly more of a fan of Camera Obscura, and though their songs were great, they were horribly unorganized, taking their time between songs and fumbling about in an already short set. She & Him totally surprised me, however. Zooey was on it all night and sounded great. Really great. I feel like her history in acting/theater brings a sense of choreography to the show, keeping it moving and keeping it dynamic. Also, the reviewer failed to elaborate much on the band. I saw those guys with M. Ward at Union Transfer last year and they were/are great. Old pros. Super tight. And the guy that plays pedal steel was mind-blowingly good. The backup singers were a nice touch, but they need more moves. Overall, I felt like the great moments far outweighed the 2 or 3 minor flubs that most people (except the reviewer) didn’t notice.