Pop-Break Live: M. Ward at Webster Hall in New York City

Words by Christian Bischoff, Photos by Al Mannarino

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On May 4th, M. Ward brought his characteristic blend of indie folk to Webster Hall, supported by Jenny Lewis-fronted supergroup NAF. Together, the two acts brought New York some of the crispest, most dynamic indie rock the city has seen yet this year.

NAF opened the show with an incredible performance. The newly minted trio opted to perform in the crowd as opposed to the stage, playing their set in the center of the venue. A giant, illuminated peace sign was the only separation between the crowd and the band.

Following NAF’s killer set, M. Ward took the stage with his backing band of seasoned musical veterans, opening with the instrumental Outro (AKA: I’m A Fool To Want You). Ward’s songs are largely driven by his incredible and recognizable guitar work, and this stress was clearly evident from the beginning. The backing band showed an incredibly array of versatility, with three of the backing band members periodically switching places to play different instruments (guitar for drums, vice versa). Ward’s backing band reflected his love of the vintage, decked out in suits and formal wear reminiscent of the touring bands of the 1950s.

Ward went on to play several songs off of his new record, More Rain, and played several crowd favorites like “Poison Cup” and “Never Had Nobody Like You.” Ward is capable of achieving a feat few other artists can claim; his music sounds better live than it does recorded. The crisp coolness of his voice coupled with his inimitable guitar work made for an enchanting set, and a chilled evening of with great ambience and even better tunes.

M. Ward Setlist

Outro (AKA: I’m A Fool To Want You)
Time Won’t Wait
Confession
Girl From
Poison Cup
Almost Grown (Chuck Berry cover)
Magic Trick
Little Baby
I’m Listening (Child’s Theme)
Never Had Nobody Like You
Chinese Translation
Rollercoaster
Rave On! (Sonny West cover)
Vincent O’Brien
Requiem
Bean Vine Blues #2 (John Fahey cover)
Whole Lotta Losin'(Monsters of Folk song)
I Get Ideas (Julio César Sanders cover)

Encore:
Sad, Sad Song
I’m Going Higher
Duet for Guitars #3
Primitive Girl

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.