Us Review: Broken Bells Debut Live Show in Brooklyn

 Josh Cheuse

There was nothing, er, broken at all about the much-anticipated, sold-out Broken Bells concert at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, last night.

The ballyhooed mini-supergroup — comprised of Shins lead singer James Mercer and Gnarles Barkley mastermind and famed DJ Dangermouse (his bootleg remix of Jay-Z's Black Album remains one of my favorite of his ingenious brainchilds) — did lots of fine-tuning that paid off big time once they hit the stage at 9:45 p.m. with a full set of new material almost entirely culled from their acclaimed debut disc (released on Tuesday).

With Danger alternating between banging the drums and keyboards and Mercer holding down lead vocals and guitar center-stage in front of a four-member backing band, the rock duo whipped out a steady, non-stop playlist of cuts from their first album (which earned four stars from Rolling Stone), including the hit "The High Road" and stupendous renditions of "The Ghost Inside," "Mongrel Heart" and "Vaporize."

With little in terms of stage lighting besides an unending stream of graphic images projected onto them (hey, dude, where's your face?), the effect was like being at a cozy, intimate underground basement party somewhere in Northern California with the best art rock band on the coast providing the soundtrack. Naturally, Danger's famed inflections of surf-rock permeated the set, as if he whipped out a sonic Sharpie and scrawled his signature on the whole thing just to let you know he's not just the drummer.

After performing nearly every one of the new songs, the crowd still hadn't had enough, causing the Bells to emerge again for an encore of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down" followed by the classic "Crimson and Clover" before ending the show with a call to have a drink. One thing's for sure: A toast is definitely in order!

For more on Broken Bells, visit their Web site.

–By Ian Drew for To read more of Ian's blog, click here and don't forget to follow him on Twitter.

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