Camera Obscura’s Triumphant Return to Chicago Brings the Glorious Melancholy

By Colette Custin


Scottish indie-pop royalty Camera Obscura returned to the Chicago stage on Monday at Thalia Hall in celebration of their reformation and new album Look to the East, Look to the West, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house.

Their first U.S. outing since the passing of keyboardist Carey Lander, vocalist/guitarist Tracyann Campbell’s breezy, melancholy vocal stylings haven’t changed a bit, offering lush and longing melodies on new tunes like the catchy “Man’s World” and the angular guitar lines of “Denon” from the new album (2023’s Look to the East, Look to the West) as well as classics like “French Navy” and “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken,” which had the sold-out crowd singing along from start to finish. Softer tunes like the plaintive “James” (from 2009’s My Maudlin Career) and opener “Liberty Print” were balanced nicely in the set, and Campbell took some time in between songs to reflect on the band’s past experiences in Chicago.

“The last time we were here, it was at the Empty Bottle…the ‘Hot Water Bottle,’ is it?” She laughed. “It’s all coming back to me now.” The band seemed re-energized after such a long hiatus, which was great to see, and, with the addition of new member Donna Maciocia on keyboards, it’s good to have one of the best bands of their genre—indie pop, chamber pop, call it what you you will—back in action, as none of their peers do it better.

Camera Obscura – Thalia Hall, Chicago, IL, 6/3/2024 (setlist)

Liberty Print
Let’s Get Out of This Country
Tears for Affairs
The Light Nights
Big Love
This is Love (Feels Alright)
We’re Gonna Make it in a Man’s World Look to the East, Look to the West The Sweetest Thing
French Navy
Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken
If Looks Could Kill
Baby Huey
Honey in the Sun
Razzle Dazzle Rose

Photo Gallery : Camera Obscura – Thalia Hall (06.03.2024)

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