Live: The Mountain Goats @ Music Box at Fonda, 11.15.09

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All photos by David Greenwald

John Darnielle is a complicated man. His Mountain Goats have risen from their early days as solo, lo-fi underdogs to their current incarnation, a crackerjack four-piece band playing to an audience bleating out every word. His long-awaited overnight success was a source of obvious joy to the songwriter on Sunday night, a smile on his face and manic energy worthy of the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn as the quartet (at times a quintet, backed by opener Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett) blasted through “This Year” and fan favorite “No Children.” Yet Darnielle’s own story hasn’t always been so happy, and as his music has turned more deeply personal in recent years, his saga of heartbreak and abuse has been laid bare. Playing through the songs of his latest album, the somber, Biblically-minded The Life of the World To Come, at one point left him holding back tears. He wasn’t the only one.

Previously: New Music: The Mountain Goats – “Genesis 3:23”