The Magnetic Fields @ Wilshire Ebell 3/2/10

Photo by Linda Rapka

As published by LA RECORD:

Even after songs like “I’m Sorry I Love You,” “Walk a Lonely Road” and “I Don’t Really Love You Anymore,” I came away from the Magnetic Fields performance at the Wilshire Ebell with a calming sense of serenity. Or perhaps it was just sleepiness. The show itself was pretty uneventful, but Stephin Merritt’s soothing baritone vocals could be extolling the virtues of flaying live puppies and I’d still walk away feeling good. The band, awkwardly set up in a straight line spanning the stage, was in usual acoustic form with guitar, cello, autoharp, keyboard and ukulele. They drew a full house, filling the theater to its 1,200-seat capacity, and the audience was unusually quiet and attentive during the entire two-hour set spanning the band’s 19-year career. Spectacle is definitely not the name of the game for the Magnetic Fields; departing their stools for intermission was the most the band moved all evening. And some percussion would have been a welcome addition to the sleepy set, an impossibility though it be — Merritt suffers from a hearing condition which bars the band from playing loudly or with any percussion, a fact apparently unknown by the dolt who whined “Play louder!” during the third tune. But despite the lack of, well, much of anything, the almost-funny cracks from Merritt and hearing some of the most beautiful songs ever written performed live left me in pretty high spirits. Depression did set in when I left the venue, however, but that was from having to cross a sidewalk smeared with slimy remnants of hundreds of trampled snails massacred en masse by the army of clodhopper fans departing to their cars.

Linda Rapka

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