Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

The Dear Hunter shoots a bull’s eye

When a band returns to its home town for a show, there are only two ways it can go: they can play it like it’s ‘just another stop on the tour,’ or they can make it something special, something that anyone who is there can take with them and remember.

Sunday night, Boston-band The Dear Hunter didn’t just show up at the Paradise Rock Club, they shattered expectations and played one riveting show for their fans.

The last time the band played a homecoming show was at the Middle East Downstairs this past July in support of its third studio album, Act III: Life and Death (Triple Crown). Since that time, the band has grown in popularity beyond even its own expectations.

‘ ‘I saw Metric [at the Paradise] a long time ago and I remember just wanting to play here,’ Casey Crescenzo, the band’s lead vocalist and sometimes guitar and piano player, said in an interview before the show. ‘It’s awesome to have the first show we play here be a show where there might actually be a lot of kids coming.’

Crescenzo, along with guitarist and vocalist Erick Serna and guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist Andy Wildrick, helped to produce and mix their latest album.

The show opened with the choral intro to the track ‘Son’ off Act III, before transitioning into a staggeringly impressive live take of ‘Mustard Gas,’ officially setting the tone for the night and tearing down any preconceived notions that the length of their tour had exhausted them.’ In fact, it quickly became apparent that being back in Boston had the opposite effect on them, and this vibrancy and alertness was felt in the audience through their careful attention to detail, their movements on stage and the smiles on their faces.

The band kept playing, rolling through song after song, everything connected by swells and strings, leaving no time for the audience to relax or wonder what was coming next.’ ‘Saved’ sounded completely different from the album version, and ‘Oracles on the Delphi Express’ had been stripped down completely to a choir, a shaker and a lone guitar, but it’s these changes that kept things fresh.

‘We try to make our live show a separate experience. . . letting the musicians in the band be musicians instead of being tape recorders,” Crescenzo said. ‘I think that for a long time we were trying really hard to be the band that sounds exactly like their record, because I think that it’s a big accomplishment to be able to do what you do in the studio in a live setting, but I think that after a while we realized that what people really get out of our records isn’t so much an organized orchestration. I think that people are still coming after we have changed our songs around because they like what we’re doing live too.’

When it was all said and done, there was nothing to complain about. Impeccable showmanship, fantastic musicianship and an audience that wanted nothing else than to be there that night provided a fantastic atmosphere that is hard to find and impossible to fake. Whether they were playing the slow, bluesy version of ‘Smiling Swine’ from their Random EP, or the final song, an epic take on ‘Red Hands’ that was familiar, but completely different from the album version, and provided the perfect tone to end the evening on with the entire audience singing along in a grandiose chorus.

The Dear Hunter played an unforgettable show. Perhaps Nate Patterson summed it up best when he said on stage, just before the last song, ‘Wow, it’s so great for us to be back home.’

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