The last time The Shins—in their original form—played New Orleans, was back in March of 2013, at Tulane’s McAlister Auditorium. No one knew at that time that that particular tour was possibly going to be the end of the band. James Mercer decided to take some time off and do his “own” thing. Mercer collaborated with Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, in a project that would come to light and become Broken Bells. The project was a step away from the indie vibes of the Shins, but would lay the foundation for the next incarnation of the band.
The band in its new form came together in 2016 to record a few tracks, and those experiences put in motion the creation of this year’s release, Heartworms. The Civic Theatre was the site of their latest New Orleans show, a SOLD OUT Bowery venture. The set was adorned with all sorts of silly and whimsical props that corresponded to the artwork of the latest album. With those and an amazing backdrop that changed when certain points of light hit it, the evening shaped up nicely.
The set was a nice combination of all the band’s releases, with a bit more emphasis on the latest effort. The set seemed to take off as the band launched into “The Rifle's Spiral” from their amazing album Ports of Morrow. After that, the band settled down and took the audience on a wonderful journey. As expected, the hits were stacked at the end of the set, but the audience didn’t really seem to mind. “New Slang” and “Simple Song” still stand with the latest rendition of this band. Topping off the evening’s encore was another audience favorite, “Sleeping Lessons,” which included “American Girl,” a shout-out to the recently departed Tom Petty.
There has always been an argument or discussion about what a band is. How many original members need to be in it still, to keep the name alive? Are the personnel that are still involved the crucial makeup of the band? For all intents and purposes, James Mercer is the Shins; without his voice and collaborative skills, the band would be no more. He could have easily gone with another name, post-2013, but in the end, opted to do the most sensible thing in keeping the name. You can see more pictures here.