The three musicians who make up the Danish alt-rock band New Politics might sing about how they are “West End kids” on their new album, but Wednesday’s performance at the Newport Music Hall solidified their status as honorary sons of Columbus.
The stop in Ohio’s capital city was part of the Wilderness Politics tour, co-headlined by New Politics and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, the newest musical project led by McMahon, who has previously performed as a singer and pianist for the bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin.
Although McMahon did not perform at the Columbus show — he was in Chicago for the sixth annual Dear Jack Benefit Night, an event hosted by his own Dear Jack Foundation for adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer — there was plenty of music filling the Newport, courtesy of the tour’s three other acts.
Taking the stage first was Lauren Pritchard, performing under the name Lolo, who charmed the audience with her soulful, powerful voice that soared triumphantly over the appreciative whoops and hollers of the crowd. As the only female musician performing on the stage that night, Lolo showcased impressive vocals on songs like “I Don’t Wanna Have to Lie” and “Heard It From a Friend,” and she presented a performance imbued with fiery passion and unabashed authenticity.
Next up was Sydney-based indie rock quartet The Griswolds, whose members made a dramatic entrance to Carl Douglas’ 1974 single “Kung Fu Fighting.” The group won over the audience with its cover of fellow Australian artist Vance Joy’s “Riptide” and pumped up the party atmosphere with its final songs, “Beware the Dog” and “Heart of a Lion.”
An anticipatory buzz filled the air as The Griswolds left the stage and a drumset emblazoned with New Politics’ signature four-strike logo was unveiled. The screams of the crowd reached a fever pitch when the lights darkened and the music in the fog-filled house abruptly cut off.
With a scarlet banner printed with the band’s name draped over his shoulder, frontman David Boyd strided into view, accompanied by his bandmates, guitarist Søren Hansen and drummer Louis Vecchio. From the swirling spotlights to Hansen’s guitar decorated to resemble the flag of his home country of Denmark, the entrance was spectacular.
From the start, New Politics’ set was a roaring ride of bombastic lyrics, thundering drum beats and awe-inspiring breakdancing courtesy of Boyd. The band got the crowd enthusiastically singing along to its opening number, an exuberant anthem from its newest album, “Vikings,” called “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens).” A forest of swinging arms and clenched fists in the pit added syncopation to the boisterous chorus and further emphasized the song’s message of empowerment.
The rambunctious energy emanating from the band did not wane throughout the entire show. Although most of the songs were taken from “Vikings,” an album with a more dance-infused sound than some of New Politics’ earlier hits, longtime fans of the group were rewarded with performances of older, more punkish favorites like “Give Me Hope,” “Just Like Me” and “Tonight You’re Perfect.”
A standout portion of the evening was Hansen’s intimate rendition of “Stardust,” a ballad from the new album. The romantic lyrics of the song were supported by unobtrusive piano chords, and the soft, simple execution of this heart-touching song served as a welcome reprieve from the electrically charged lineup of tunes that had dominated New Politics’ set up until that point.
The evening concluded with a crowd favorite: “Harlem,” which featured a reappearance from Lolo to close out the night. No encore was performed, but the crowd didn’t seem to care. They left happy and invigorated by the no-holds-barred musical spectacle they had just witnessed.
New Politics is a group that has the ability to leave an audience feeling inspired and ready to take on the world, and based on its success so far, it looks as if this band is liable to do just that.