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Sleater-Kinney Returns to New York, Rocks Through Past and Present: Live Review

Sleater-Kinney
Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney perform at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. 

The Sleater-Kinney 2015 reunion extravaganza rolled on last night (Feb. 26), with the first of two sold-out shows at New York's Terminal 5, a venue far larger than what the trio would have played prior to its 2006 split.

S-K's power goes beyond the goodwill of having them back -- they now come with a star-studded VIP section, thanks in large part to guitarist-vocalist Carrie Brownstein's increased celebrity alongside Fred Arimsen (spotted in the VIP balcony, of course) via Portlandia.

Cool as Carrie is, a Sleater-Kinney live show reminds you that Corin Tucker is a dynamo of a live performer. After revving the crowd with a fiery reproductive rights speech, Tucker ditched the guitar and went straight for the words, leading an encore performance of No Cities To Love track "Gimmie Love:" "Gimmie respect! Gimmie equality! Gimmie love!" Commence Corin taking center stage, mic in hand, her vocals blasting through the cavernous space.

Janet Weiss was a force as well, as drumfill-happy new songs like "Fangless" put her ability to drive a song on full display. She joined in Tucker and Brownstein's vocal assault on numerous tracks, and played the neck-held harmonica like a boss on the percussion-free "Modern Girl." With new touring member Katie Harkin filling in some of the sonic space (after all, No Cities to Love has keyboards), Sleater-Kinney version 2.0 is an absolute monster, delivering on the shred side and the pop-friendly, harmony-drenched end.

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At roughly three-thousand capacity, Terminal 5 is twice the size of Webster Hall, the venue Sleater-Kinney played when it hit last New York City in 2006. The airy, expansive, three-floored realm is much better suited to EDM and DJ sets, but Sleater-Kinney put on the type of performance that could have held up almost anywhere. The strength of No Cities to Love is a big reason why.

Playing eight of ten tracks off a new album would be a tough sell for most rock bands on the comeback trail, but what fuels this rebirth is its vitality in the present. Old songs like "What's Mine Is Yours," "Jumpers," and closer "Dig Me Out" put the crowd into an absolute frenzy, but there was little passion lost when the quartet dug into its 2015 album. When a band has a foot planted in the past and another in the present like this, it won't be budging anytime soon.

So let's start taking bets -- what band could break up in 2015 and come back like Sleater-Kinney in 2025?

Here's the set list from last night's show:

Price Tag
Start Together
Fangless
Get Up
Surface Envy
Oh!
No Anthems
What's Mine Is Yours
Youth Decay
No Cities to Love
A New Wave
The End of You
One Beat
Words and Guitar
Bury Our Friends
Entertain
Sympathy
Jumpers

Encore:
Gimmie Love
Turn It On
One More Hour
Modern Girl
Dig Me Out