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Phoenix @ The Wiltern 6/28/09

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It takes, frankly, balls, to name your album as an homage to a man whose music has remained popular for almost three centuries. Touring in support of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, French import rockers Phoenix took to the stage at the Wiltern Sunday night not just as alt-rock stars, but rather as alt-rock gods, playing a remarkably high-energy, finely-tuned show that gripped the worshiping crowd with every note.

It could very well have been touch-and-go, because just the night before, lead singer Thomas Mars had been too ill to perform a scheduled stop in San Francisco. One would never have guessed he'd been voice-less just 24 hours prior--Mars' vocals were unwavering for the duration. The show began with "Lisztomania," which got things off to rollicking start. Phoenix's sound has evolved over their two most recent albums to have characteristic high and steady tempos punctuated with well-timed pauses to spotlight a series of notes deftly plucked on guitar, perhaps keyboard, and the repetition of key words and phrases--sort of sock hop meets rock; you might be tempted to pump your fists, bob your head...and bop around a little.