Eleanor Friedberger released Last Summer, her first solo album/our sixth favorite record of 2011, last July, and she’s basically been on the road behind it ever since. Last night at the Bell House was the second time I’ve seen her since, well, last summer, and it’s clear that because she and her band play, essentially, the same 15 or so songs every night, they’ve been tinkering with their material, making the tracks not only more interesting for themselves, but also for us. Overall, songs like set-opener “My Mistake,” complete with an instrumental intro, and “Scenes from Bensonhurst” breathe more than they do on Last Summer (its Todd Rundgren-like production occasionally feels a little restrictive). But outside of the studio, and led by the increasingly impressive lead guitarist John Eatherly, the songs sway a little more, with highlight “I Won’t Fall Apart on You Tonight,” in particular, getting a mellower rearranging. Eleanor’s voice, too, is more playful now, ever-so-slightly tweaking the emphasis on certain words in her observational, stream-of-consciousness narratives about New York City, less poetic than Lou Reed but equally cool-without-trying-to-be-cool. Plus, her set ended with Bob Dylan’s “True Love Tends to Forget,” a great, underappreciated song to end a great, appreciated set.
Photos of the show by Nadia Chaudhury of Eleanor — as well as openers Hospitality, who may just end up on our end-of-year 2012 list — are below.