Dan Bejar released his tenth album as Destroyer, Poison Season, this past summer, to great critical acclaim. The album builds on the band’s ever expanding sound, leaving behind much of the seventies soft rock references of 2011’s Kaputt for string quartets and more bombastic orchestrations. Last Monday night, Bejar brought the album to the 9:30 Club.
Live, the tracks from the new album sounded much more like its predecessor, due in no small part to him touring with much the same band. Even without the strings, it takes an eight-piece group to recreate the Destroyer sound on-stage, with trumpets and saxophones playing as important a role these days as guitars and drums. Bejar, as usual, seems lost in his own world, half-singing half-speaking into the microphone with his eyes closed, and crouching during the instrumental passages to let the focus be on the band.
Bejar only broke the fourth wall twice: once early in the set to respond to some random shouts from the audience – “my drummer is not a metronome and it’s not my birthday” (it had, in fact, been his birthday the night before) – and at the end to thank them for coming. Otherwise he seemed, as usual in his live performance, lost in his own world, as if the hundreds of people with their attention all focused on him weren’t there at all. Despite this seeming lack of an audience connection, his strange charisma kept the audience entranced throughout the set.
Much of the setlist (nine of the fifteen songs) came from Poison Season, including “Forces From Above,” “Dream Lover,” “Times Square,” and “Girl In a Sling.” But Bejar and crew also looked back to Kaputt, including the title track, “Savage Night at the Opera,” “Chinatown,” and “Poor in Love.” Several tracks from 2006’s Destroyers Rubies made an appearance as well, including an encore-closing performance of “Rubies” as a highlight of the show, as well as one track from 2004’s Your Blues, “It’s Gonna Take an Airplane.”
Canadian singer-songwriter Jennifer Castle opened the show.