Show report: The Magnetic Fields, Overture Center

  • I told the sitter we were going to see Magnetic Fields tonight, and she said, “I think my mom listens to them.”
  • Having a slightly wry This American Life – style spoken-word duo open for a rock band was a good idea, but not wholly successful in practice.
  • Claudia played piano, not drums, and the band played the whole show seated (except when Claudia stood on the piano bench to sing her part of “Yeah, Oh Yeah.” Some songs (especially “Three-way”) revealed interesting new stuff when played softly, others (“Too Drunk To Dream”) just sounded bounceless compared to the record.
  • Something I’d never noticed before about Magnetic Fields — how often they arrange the lines so that you have to sing the stress on the wrong syllable of the word. I wonder if this is an intentional act of aggression against the singer? They especially like to force a stress on the “ing” at the end of a participle.
  • They seem more serious than they used to. No sloppy covers. Mrs. Q said Stephin looked like he was at work, and I think that’s about right.

9 thoughts on “Show report: The Magnetic Fields, Overture Center

  1. Dirty Davey says:

    Was this the show where the opener included Paul Lukas of Uni Watch?

  2. Toby Gee says:

    So… did you enjoy it?

  3. JSE says:

    Yeah! Much more than Stephin Merritt did, that’s for sure.

    Dave: Yeah, I didn’t realize that was him, but I just looked it up and — that was him. The problem with the act is that you don’t really want to see 50 examples of the same mildly amusing shtick in a row; that’s why it works better on a blog, where you just see one or two pieces of the shtick each time you visit.

  4. Steve says:

    Sounds like the show that we saw, except that the show we saw had more energy, maybe much more energy, due to the Magnetic Fields’ historic connections to Boston– the crowd was really into it, and the band members who were not Stephin reciprocated.

    Did they do “Drive On, Driver”? or “The Nun’s Lament,” which I didn’t like until I saw it live?

    I think it’s great that Stephin is touring at all at this point, and I don’t expect wild enthusiasm about live performance from him, ever.

    In Boston they had a different non-song, NPR-ish act, a comedy duo with sound effects who did a kind of radio-play version of a comic Robert Sheckley short story. I think they don’t (that is, Stephin doesn’t) want to come on after a big loud conventional rock band. Or even a twee pop one.

  5. JSE says:

    Oh yeah, both “Drive on, Driver” and “The Nun’s Lament” were played — I should have mentioned “Drive on, Driver” as another song that sounds interestingly different distortionless.

  6. Em says:

    Mrs. Q went to a show! Yay!

  7. Meredith says:

    In honor of another beloved figure from your Boston past, I just found this Mr. T coloring book on a daddyblog. Rad.

  8. Meredith says:

    Um, that link didn’t work. Here’s another:

  9. JSE says:


    In college we somehow acquired a copy of Mr. T’s motivational video tape for teens, “Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool.” And now I see you can watch the whole thing on Google Video!

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