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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Night: The Magnetic Fields, Mark Eitzel at the Fox (Noise Pop)

Posted By on Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 7:57 PM

click to enlarge The Magnetic Fields - JOSEPH SCHELL
  • Joseph Schell
  • The Magnetic Fields

The Magnetic Fields, Mark Eitzel (Noise Pop)
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010
The Fox Theater

Better than: What delicate, acoustic pop would sound like without a band as relentlessly clever as The Magnetic Fields playing it.

Tunesmith Stephin Merritt and his now-venerable indie-pop band The Magnetic Fields put all of the spare beauty and sardonic air in their music on display at the Fox Theater Saturday night. Equipped with an accordion, autoharp, a tuba, and a ukelele (among other usual suspects -- but no drums), Merritt and Co. rendered a broad selection of new and old songs with the orchestral-folk sensibilities that define their current album Realism. Their witty stage banter (member Claudia Gonson has a dry humor all her own) and wry lyrics also made people laugh. A lot.

click to enlarge The Magnetic Fields - JOSEPH SCHELL
  • Joseph Schell
  • The Magnetic Fields

​But while Realism is certainly mellow, last night's performance -- in all its stunning elegance -- sounded at times indulgently mild. No matter how devoted the audience (and many shouted like Merritt worshippers), performing 30-odd songs that all sound like intricate, sarcastic lullabies was a risk. Anyone who wanted to see the Fields' demonstrate their penchant for working across genres was out of luck. Focusing on one style for a time may be how Merritt prefers to work, but the presence of an intermission in last night's show spoke for itself. It was the only break from their embroidered folk that we got.

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Ian S. Port

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