Lambchop - Live at XX Merge

Determinedly obscure, the amorphous Nashville band known as Lambchop rarely plays Seattle. The closest fans are likely to get is the 47-minute concert doc Lambchop: Live at XX Merge, filmed last year at a 20th anniversary bash for Merge Records. Led by a seated Kurt Wagner, the group’s lead singer and songwriter, 11 musicians are framed tight on a no-nonsense stage, undistracted by effects—or, it seems—the appreciative audience. Pushing quickly through favorites like “Grumpus” and “National Talk Like a Pirate Day,” face hidden by thick glasses and trucker’s cap, Wagner has no time for small talk. (Now 52, he’s survived cancer and—in an unrelated health crisis—had his jaw rebuilt with hip bone.) When pianist Tony Crow tries a little banter, Wagner comments, “With every joke, a song goes by the wayside.” They’re the geezers in the group, which maintains a molasses cohesiveness at Motown tempos. The younger players are expert but unshowy, deferential to the guy sitting in their midst. Only for the set’s finale, “Give It (Once in a Lifetime),” does Wagner put down his guitar and stand, at one point pleading “Gimme a little more time.” Viewers will feel the same way. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Wed., June 30, 8 p.m.; Thu., July 1, 8 p.m., 2010

 
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