If Phoenix’s Omaha concert is any indication, the band’s late-summer U.S. tour is going to be amazing.
Tuesday night’s show at the Omaha Music Hall began as one might expect: The French pop band marched onstage and launched into “Entertainment,” the breezy, synthy single from the band’s latest album, “Bankrupt!”
Had nothing special happened, it would have been a fun show from a fine band. But some unpredictable and fun moments made it unforgettable.
Omaha was the first stop in the tour after Phoenix’s Sunday headlining spot at Lollapalooza, attended by more than 300,000 people over three days.
I’d argue that Tuesday’s show was probably more fun than the big show over the weekend. The 2,300-capacity concert hall allowed for a lot more spontaneity.
At first, fans rose in their seats and shimmied around to the beat as Phoenix moved on to “Lasso” and “Lisztomania” from its breakout album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”
Singer Thomas Mars welcomed the audience in his pleasant French accent: “We are Phoenix from Paris, France. Good evening, Omaha!”
Phoenix’s pop — full of new wave synths and super-fast dance beats — filled the theater as the audience grooved.
Then something went wrong. But it got fun.
Something — I never found out what — broke on the drum kit. Instead of delaying the concert, Mars stepped off the stage and into the audience. There, he sang “Countdown” with only guitarist Christian Mazzalai playing behind him.
Fans pulled out their cellphones and snapped photos, but most stood reverently and soaked in the moment, which was pretty rare from a critically acclaimed and popular band.
Phoenix followed with the bouncy “Consolation Prizes,” which brought the audience back into a dancing frenzy. An electronic-infused version of the band’s mostly instrumental “Love Like a Sunset” followed.
Shortly afterward, Mars decided that he didn’t like the fans standing in their seats. He welcomed them to fill the aisles and come to the front of the theater, which filled in fast with fans pressing into the front of the stage.
When Mars and the band launched into its most popular song, “1901,” they were set upon by fans with waving arms who shouted every “Hey hey hey hey hey” in the chorus.
Mars stood on top of his vocal monitor and surveyed the faithful. He was connecting with the audience, he knew it, and he was grinning like a foreman observing well-done work by his crew.
And it got better.
When the band retook the stage after a short absence, Mars decided that crowding the theater’s aisles wasn’t close enough for the band’s fans.
“This is a dance song. If you don’t have space, feel free to come onstage and dance,” Mars said. “Do whatever you want. This is Omaha. This is your place.”
Even more people descended from their seats while Phoenix performed a fast-paced version of “Funky Squaredance,” a dance song full of classic rock riffs from the band’s 2000 debut album, “United.”
Hundreds of people surrounded the band members onstage as they finished the unpredictable night with “Rome,” and I caught smiles from Mars, Mazzalai and guitarist Laurent Brancowitz as they played amid dancing teens and people snapping pictures with the band members in the background.