The Constantines’ dual nature — as studied rock revivalists and self-conscious art rockers — is what’s made them such a compelling band over the past seven years. They project a vibe of recklessness and musical naivete, but there’s always been a good deal of measured complexity bubbling beneath the surface. It may appear to be classic rock, but it’s classic rock steeped in modernity.
As a stage act, the Constantines are equal parts unrestrained emotion and steadfast musical proficiency. Lead singer Bryan Webb tears into each lyric, veins popping from his forehead and neck, as the band locks sharply into place. His high-wire act is an impressive one.
The set, which clocked in at a brisk 50 minutes, relied heavily on material from new disc “Kensington Heights” and the band’s sophomore breakthrough “Shine a Light.” The “Shine a Light” tunes are galvanizing and mysterious, laced with big E Street Band hooks and unexpected dynamic shifts and tempo changes. In the live setting, rockers such as “Nighttime/Anytime (It’s Alright)” and “Insectivora” percolated with nervous energy and then boiled over into chaotic swells of guitar and drums. Newer songs, though energizing, lacked much of the immediacy that made “Shine a Light” such a stunning album.