Magnetic Fields

Last night, of course, was the Magnetic Fields concert at the Queen's Hall. Obviously many more bands play in London than in Edinburgh, but the upside of being here - one of the many upsides - is that I can walk out of my front door and about a hundred yards later I'm walking through a park, which I keep walking through for another ten minutes until I'm within a couple of hundred yards of the venue. An unalloyed pleasure. The very thought of catching three trains, two buses, the tube, and ten minutes on a pogo stick even to go to the pub fills me with horror.

I arrived at about eight, and The Real Tuesday Weld had already started. I had an immediate feeling of familiarity, which was obviously because (though it took me a couple of songs to realise) they supported Future Bible Heroes last May (only last year? It seems like much longer) in Hackney. I liked them a bit more this time. My memories of them before were just of being rather bland, but last night they came across a bit better. Slightly more arch, funnier, and more engaging too. Maybe it's just because I was a bit closer. Maybe I was in a better mood, not having just caught a meandering bus through an unfamiliar part of a strange city, not sure I'd arrive on time. Regardless . . . a singer (in a dated and snugly-cut suit), a guitarist (acoustic or archtop) in an RAF uniform jacket, a clarinettist, a bassist (acoustic flat-top[1]) and a drummer. And a fiddler on some songs, who was introduced as being "absolutely the best in his price-range". Light, almost jazzy, and droll. The light show at the end was certainly . . . amusing [2].

I think I've now seen the Magnetic Fields either four or five times, depending on whether you count the 69LS pair as one appearance or two, and the future Bible Heroes once, and I think this was the quietest yet. Probably this was how they wanted it. Merritt was covering his ears during any of the more enthusiastic applause, so I'm tempted to think so. Unsurprisingly the set had most of the new(ish) album, I - pronounced "I" in the US and "ee" in Spain, which is where they'd just been. They asked how it was pronounced in Scotland, and then proceeded to patronise the local accent. And, in a roundabout way, the city as well. Three of them had actually been before, but not in about the last fifteen years. All good fun. Apart from that it was inevitably largely 69LS material, with three or four from Holiday, Get Lost and Highway Strip.

By album, rather than in order:
I die, I don't believe you, I don't really love you anymore, I looked all over town I thought you were my boyfriend (I think), I wish I had an evil twin
I don't believe in the sun, All my little words, A chicken with its head cut off, Reno Dakota, Come back from San Francisco, The book of love, A pretty girl is like, If you don't cry, Papa was a rodeo, Yeah! Oh yeah!,
(Get Lost)
Smoke and Mirrors, All the umbrellas in London
Strange Powers, Swinging London
(The charm of the highway strip)
Born on a train

I'm not sure I've caught all of them. "I", in particular, may be incomplete.

The pace, as usual, was a bit slower than the records. More relaxed, possibly, which I'm sure didn't suit everyone. A few people left during the set, which may have been displeasure rather than catching the last bus. Hard to say. Early in the set the band asked for a minute's silence in memory of John Peel. It was the dub mix, with doors closing and people walking up and down echoey corridors in the background, but everyone seemed to appreciate the gesture. Marc Almond got a mention too, of course, just before Strange Powers, as the last time they'd done it in Britain (the Shepherds Bush gig, maybe?) Almond had sung it. No minute's silence needed there, happily. The first couple off I had a very restrained welcome, but after that all the songs were applauded warmly. Yeah! Oh, Yeah! was especially good, Stephin standing on his high stool looking unsympathetically down at Claudia pleading from the edge of the stage.

It was too short, obviously, although an excellent evening. I'd happily have stayed for rather longer, tired though I was. A very good use of the time and money. Nice to see hfnuala and old workmate Ed Pybus there, too. He's moved, which is probably why I haven't seen him around lately.

[1]No, I don't mean that he was playing his haircut
[2]Stick-on multicoloured LED badges. One each, except for the fiddler, who was left out completely and had to make do with an extremely unconvincing apology from the singer.
  • Current Mood: Pleased
  • Current Music: Magnetic Fields - 100,000 Fireflies
When you say: "an unalloyed pleasure" which pure metal pleasure is it? Silver? Gold? ;)

I must get around to buying some Magnetic Fields, which do you recommend I purchase first?
Possibly gold. certainly at least silver. Something precious[1].

which do you recommend I purchase first?

69 Love Songs. Best value in popular music.

[1] No pun intended, and definitely no Real Tuesday Weld reference involved.
69 Love Songs

It's difficult not to be in love in that position I suppose. However, putting aside my usual propensity for smut I remember you buying this now and I recall that it is indeed one song short of the seventy mark.

That'll go on my 'to buy' list. :)
What do you mean by "flat-top" in reference to basses? Been playing for years and never come across that phrase... is it the same as "headless bass"?
A 4-string bass version of a flat-top acoustic guitar. As opsed to an archtop, (solid) electric bass or a double-bass.