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Originally published May 12, 2009 at 11:17 AM | Page modified May 12, 2009 at 1:52 PM

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Flight of the Conchords is funny, but Paramount sound is crummy

Pop parodists Flight of the Conchords' precision timing is partly clouded by a murky sound-mix at Seattle's Paramount Theatre.

Seattle Times arts writer

On the Internet

Check out video of Flight of the Conchords at www.hbo.com/conchords.

Additional performances

Flight of the Conchords

7:30 p.m., May 12-13, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $35.50 (877-784-4849 or www.theparamount.com).

Concert Review |

For their opening number, they wore robot suits -- but didn't sing their famous robot song ("Robots"). For their closer, they squeezed into glam attire and blasted out a driving, Bowie-esque "Demon Woman." While they were at it, they apologized profusely, saying the show really needed another hour's rehearsal.

They were wrong, of course. Their deliberate bumbling and silliness was precision-timed. What they could have used was a better sound system.

New Zealand's Flight of the Conchords, both in their HBO-series incarnation and in concert, are a pop-parody paradox: two men who profess to meet with nothing but failure and humiliation in every walk of life — fiscal, sexual, artistic — and in doing so have become a huge success.

Their fans yelled semi-intelligibly at them at numerous points throughout Monday's show, and their three-night run at the Paramount reportedly is sold out. (I did notice empty seats in the balcony, so if you're determined to see these guys, you should give it a try.)

As they alternated songs and "talkings," Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie addressed hurt feelings, ex-girlfriends ("Felicity said there was no electricity") and the duller side of bedroom athletics ("Then you sort out the recycling — which isn't part of the foreplay, but is still very important").

FOTC favorites — "I'm Not Crying," "Business Time," "Foux du Fafa" — got their due. New material included a Western epic about an evil man named Stana (Satan with a few letters switched around) whose this-town-ain't-big-enough-for-the-two-of-us threats rapidly devolved into debate on whether the place could really call itself a town if two people were feeling crowded in it.

Plus, there was an appearance by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (much reduced after "cutbacks").

Too many of the duo's song lyrics got lost in echoey sound, however. FOTC rely on pitch-perfect phrasing and deadpan verbal twists to pull off their act. If you can't hear them clearly, the show becomes a matter of paying homage to what you've enjoyed on TV rather than something experienced anew in the concert hall.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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