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Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

When I first heard that Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij were putting out an album together, I was as excited as I was apprehensive. It sounded great on paper, of course, but rarely do collaborations like this go over as well as they’re theoretically supposed to. With The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend in their respective back catalogs, the duo had a lot to live up to, but this afternoon, they did just that with an exhilarating, eight-song set at WXPN’s Free at Noon concert.

Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

The pair seemed to be in great spirits when they took the stage. Their new album, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, had just been released to glowing reviews, so, fittingly, they kicked things off with the joyous, groovy waltz “When the Truth Is…”. With its Muscle Shoals-referencing rhythm section, Rostam’s modern embellishments, and Hamilton’s trademark yelp, the track played like a mission statement for the rest of the set. They followed this up with breezy barn-burner “The Morning Stars” and the explosive, Dylan-esque “I Retired,” a track that dates back to Hamilton’s solo debut.

Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Their set wasn’t all raucous back beats and superhuman yawping, though, as the band quickly delved into the enchanting, Spanish guitar inflected “In a Black Out”. This track provided a welcome change of pace, bringing to mind the countrified beauty of Walkmen cuts like “Blue As Your Blood”. The rootsy, soulful “Peaceful Morning” and defiant “Rough Going (I Don’t Let Up)” followed the playful “You Ain’t That Young Kid,” which Hamilton noted was something he jokingly said to Rostam while they were recording the song.

The show culminated, of course, with the album’s lead single, the massive, vocally taxing “A 1000 Times”. The song’s climax lasts for its entire four minute run time, so by the final chorus, Hamilton had all but lost his voice, but it didn’t matter. They had left it all on the stage and proven that they were so much more than the bands they came from.

Setlist
When the Truth Is…
The Morning Stars
I Retired
In a Black Out
You Ain’t That Young Kid
Peaceful Morning
Rough Going (I Don’t Let Up)
A 1000 Times

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