By Chuck Cox
Front Row Contributor
Of course, the comedy duo’s eponymous HBO show had just wrapped its brilliant second — and ultimately final — season seven years ago. Since then, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have gone on to expand their acting and music careers. Thankfully for us, they have kept, as they referred to themselves on Wednesday, “the only musical duo from New Zealand,” alive and kicking.
The best part of the show, other than my amazing second-row center seat, was that the ‘Chords played numerous new tracks from a forthcoming album, including “The Ballad of Stana” (a sprawling country and western epic), “Shady Rachael” (a hilarious stab at jazz), “Father and Son” (with Jemaine playing the father), the insanely quirky “Seagull,” and a song that was every bit as funny as its title, “The Summer of 1353 (Woo a Lady),” which they have been playing live since 2010.
As always, the guys included plenty of funny stage banter in between songs. They talked about getting older, which forces their loyal fan base to ponder its own mortality, and the popularity of the TV series “Dallas” in New Zealand, among other topics.
Clement and McKenzie, flanked by an upright bass player for most of the show, also interacted directly with some of the crowd members, which was fun.
Of course, they also played a slew of the songs fans of come to love, like “The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room),” “Business Time,” “Inner-City Pressure,” “Robots” and “Bowie,” although a couple of favorites like “Leggy Blonde” and “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros” did not show up on the set list. I thought the new stuff more than made up for the omissions.
The most unintentionally funny part of the evening came when McKenzie had the dreaded “wrong city moment,” telling Houston, rather than Dallas, goodnight.
As he said during the encore, that mistake was really amazing considering the guys said Dallas a lot during the show. But it was all good. It was an incredibly funny night of entertainment.
Comedian Demetri Martin got things going with a very funny 30-minute standup set of quick-hit, observational humor. Oddly, he strummed a guitar and played harmonica while he did his final round of jokes. No singing, just jokes. I wasn’t very familiar with Martin, but I thought he was really funny. It was also pretty cool that Flight of the Conchords took the stage as soon as Martin was finished.
On a side note, I think Verizon might be under new management. Parking was a little bit cheaper than normal (well done) and done a little bit differently, the venue had Coke products instead of Pepsi, and there were some new computer monitors in the lobby for patrons to use. No inside knowledge, just a hunch there might be a new group running the show.