23 March 2010

Come here baby

'... and kiss me like you mean it'. I went to the Barbican to see the Magnetic Fields last night.  Stephin Merrit's five-piece band played a beautifully soporific, genre-spanning, note-perfect set of songs from their illustrious 21-year career.  The programme notes states that he doesn't like twee music, but this is that.  In a good way.


Merritt's incredibly low bass baritone voice, combined with his ubiquitous ukulele-strumming, soaring cello, vocal harmonies and the band's funny quips and tangential, nonsensical chat made for a great show.  I would have liked to hear less of their latest album Realism (because I don't know it) and more of their massive 3 disc 1999 release, 69 Love Songs (because I know it very well).  They wheeled out a song by The 6ths which made my night, played the crowd-pleasing I Don't Wanna Get Over You, the excellent Lemony Snicket-inspired Shipwrecked and ended on Papa was a Rodeo.  Fantastic.


I'd never seen them live before, but everyone who has raves about them and my high expectactions were met.  What I wasn't expecting was a great supporting act by CĂ©leste Boursier-Mougenot's Zebra Finches next door…  In a new commission for The Curve, the French artist "creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways."


Basically there are loads of little birds hopping about on plugged-in electric guitars. A must-see.


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