2013 – Idlewild
They Might Be Giants’ little live mini-album was quite a treat considering it was thrown in for free when I picked up my copies of Nanobots and Lincoln. It is primarily filled with the usual TMBG fare of nasal ditties and boppy melodies, but the live aspect really does add a little something into the mix.
You can hear the energy and loss of breath as the band chug through a rocked up version of Anna Ng and the slightly off notes of the intro to Istanbul (Not Constantinople) really give that sense of standing there in the audience and watching all the silliness unfold.
I’m not entirely sure if the tracks on this EP are all taken from a single gig or if they were compiled from a series of shows, but either way the transition from track to track is seamless and, while the EP is only seven tracks long, the whole thing feels complete and well rounded. The set list glides from rock to ditty to somewhere in between and gives a good indication of the group’s scope of musical abilities with the frequent changes in instrumentation of genre.
Another thing I like about this EP is that, while I am very familiar with most of the tracks performed on it, I haven’t ever heard them quite like this. I have written before about the fact that I hate it when a band releases a live album that sounds exactly like the studio version and thankfully TMBG have not done that here. Each song is instantly recognizable as a hit, but they take on a new form and character as they are transposed into the live setting. Part of this might derive from the fact that the band doesn’t have the same resources on-stage as it would in the studio, but in my opinion there is something more than that at work here. It sounds to me like there is a conscious decision by the group to provide the audience with more than a simple regurgitation of the album material and also to have a little bit more fun themselves.
To conclude I would say that the Nanobots Live EP is a great taster for the band’s live show and also a good introduction to the kind of music this odd duo get up to when they have the luxury of a full group of musicians to back them up. Every song is catchy and there is that unmistakable feeling of liveness about it. I’m not sure if you’re able to actually buy this record by itself, or if it only comes with purchasing Nanobots at a show, but either way I would recommend getting your little hands on a copy. I would also highly recommend seeing They Might Be Giants in concert if this EP isn’t quite enough to satisfy you.
This is one of my personal favourite tracks to see performed live by They Might Be Giants.