The Magnetic Fields @ The Carolina Theatre 3-21/22-17 [part 1]

Due to a photography ban [sensible] this pre-show pic from the Downtown Durham Tumblr must suffice

Like most, I became attuned to The Magnetic Fields when their just-try-to-ignore-this “69 Love Songs” was released in 1999 and got some heavy airplay on the only radio station [WPRK-FM] I could listen to. Since then, I’ve come up to speed with only a single release missing from the Record Cell and we’ve seen The Magnetic Fields in concert three times previous. When I got the notice that head MF Stephin Merritt had been writing a new album called “50 Song Memoir” and that the concert to tour this album consisted of all 50 songs, played over two nights at more tony establishments, well we were all over those tickets last year.

The shows were in the Carolina Theatre in Durham and were on a Tuesday and Wednesday night, so we ended up taking a week’s vacation, doing a bit of traveling, and spent the other half of the week last week with our pals in Efland, Elisa and Tom. The theatre was a restored Beaux Arts venue built in 1926 and probably free of the dreaded “rock cooties” so decried by our heroes Sparks. Our seats were about halfway back the first night, but the sight lines in the venue were perfectly clear. The show began promptly at 8 p.m. and Stephin Merritt stepped out onto the stage and sat on the stool he’d occupy for the length of both shows.

The stage, as seen above, was whimsical in keeping with the personal events and situations that drove the conceit of a song written about each of the first 50 years of Merrit’s life. It looked like a candy-color toybox of false jollity that created frissons of irony when being  the setting for Merrit’s often mordant and droll tales of what he’s had to endure thus far in this life. I suspect that it was also a functional stage set. Merritt has hyperacuisis syndrome, so the plexiglas barriers in the stage set, isolated him acoustically from the rest of the musicians. The band were arrayed behind the set and they furthermore had plexiglas acoustic isolation screen between each other. The players were as if they were in a studio, rather than a live setting. This served to make the instrumentation of the songs as clear as a bell. This was a show that was a joy and delight to the ear.

Next: …Figures on a Stage


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Concert Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.