ohGr at the Bluebird Theater

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Thursday, November 27, 2008
Bluebird Theater
Better Than:
Not being able to resist the lull of tryptophan.

Having seen the previous ohGr tour through Denver in 2001 as well as Skinny Puppy for the Greater Wrong of the Right, I expected the show to be decent but it ended up being even better.

For the first song, the three-member band came out and started playing as a kind of instrumental introduction to the set, something that would be reprised throughout the performance. Not long into the music, a figure shambled on to stage that looked like a water-bloated, green zombie with its lower innards hanging down, the intestines supporting what looked like two small closed circuit cameras facing each other at a diagonal. The face had goggles of some kind and it was obvious that the person inside was wearing this outfit on his back but making motions as though that side facing the audience was in control. When the vocals started, it was unmistakably Ogre.

On the screen behind the band, as well as on its members and Ogre's lightly colored costumes, were projects of various textures, hues, shapes and images fitting the theme of the song or at least its tenor. The music was a varied mixture of ohGr material from all three records and it made for an extremely dynamic and strong performance all around.

When Ogre finally turned around during an instrumental song, he was wearing a translucent mask with some bandages surrounding part of his face, perhaps holding the mask on. During that song he lumbered about and explored the stage and looked quizzically about the audience and his own body like a creature newly created. A less menacing Frankenstein's monster, curious about the world and even taking a camera from someone in the front row and carefully inspecting its features. This level of theatricality evolved as the show went on with Ogre peeling off layers of the disguise and changing stage personas with each transformation.
When Ogre finally dispensed with all the headgear, he had on make-up and looked like The Joker with black lipstick. With lyrics that serve to expunge the psyche rather than seek to damage and harm others, you'd have to say Ogre was sort of the anti-Joker though visually just as menacing.

At one point, Ogre announced that the conceptual part of the show was over and from then on out the instrumental interludes were over and it definitely became more of a rock show but with a lot more imaginative a presentation and music to match. The set ended with "Minus," and a rousing rendition of "Pore." For an encore, the band came on and really put themselves into "Lusid" and closed with "Cracker." If this show was a display of Ogre at his most accessible and ohGr as a pop band, it sure was a high water mark.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias: I think Ogre is one of the most significant artists of the last 25 years.
Random Detail: Ran into DJ Lelly at the show.
By the Way: Ogre will be at FashioNation (613 E. 13th Ave.) for an autograph signing from 2 to 5 p.m on Friday, November 28.

-- Tom Murphy

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