The Magnetic Fields at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 11/14/12: Review and Setlist

Categories: Last Night

The set was expertly-paced, allowing all three vocalists to alternate and providing a nice balance between the funny songs and the tearjerkers. Cellist Sam Davol took an experimental direction tonight, providing mock-Mingus accents to "Love Is Like Jazz" and reveling at times in John Cale-like swooping drones, a new direction for him. Woven through the set was the "Marriage Proposal Trilogy," consisting of "The Book of Love," "It's Only Time" and the encore "Forever And A Day." It all added up to the best of the Magnetic Fields' three St. Louis appearances.

Opening act Gal Musette was an unexpected, sweet surprise. Only fourteen years old (meaning she was not yet born when Merritt began writing 69 Love Songs), Musette and cohort Brent Samson played a set of short, guileless songs with a ragtime flair and a certain underlying melancholy. Musette played piano and ukulele and sang in a high, warbly register, while Samson mostly stuck to acoustic guitar and stomped on a box for percussion. The end result resembled Blossom Dearie collaborating with Low or Ida. Samson did not stop smiling throughout the entire set, at one point enthusing about how he nearly quit music before beginning to collaborate with Musette. Between the two of them, their enthusiasm was infectious. Musette returned to the stage during the Magnetic Fields' set to provide background French translation during "Smoke and Mirrors." Should she and Samson return to St. Louis, don't miss them.

Overheard: "I can't believe I'm getting to see the Magnetic Fields. I don't care if they just throw paper airplanes around onstage; I'm just happy to see them."

Personal Bias: I've probably seen the Magnetic Fields more often than any other band. I attended literally dozens of their shows throughout the 1990s, when I lived in and around New York City. I've known Gonson even longer; we bonded over a shared love of British post-punk at a time when this was not as common as it is now.

I Die
A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off
Your Girlfriend's Face
Reno Dakota
Come Back from San Francisco
Love Is Like Jazz
No One Will Ever Love You
I've Run Away To Join the Fairies
Plant White Roses
Drive On, Driver
My Husband's Pied-A-Terre
The Horrible Party
Smoke and Mirrors
Goin' Back to The Country
Andrew In Drag
Busby Berkeley Dreams
Boa Constrictor
The Book of Love
Fear of Trains
You Must Be Out of Your Mind
Grand Canyon
Swinging London
It's Only Time
Smile! No One Cares How You Feel (Gothic Archies)
All My Little Words
Forever And a Day

Location Info


The Sheldon

3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Category: General

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Enjoyed the writeup, and very much appreciated the setlist. 


Great show, great venue—my first time there. Really excited about Jeff Mangum playing there. It was a perfect setting for seeing the Magnetic Fields. The best of the three times I've seen them, and I think a lot of that was due to the venue. They seemed happy to be there. I forgot how much humor there is in the banter and in the way the songs are delivered—I feel like it was partially a comedy show. 


Simms played ukulele. Davol played cello. This review somehow has mistakes for both.


 @rmatthewward glad you liked it!  I am looking forward to seeing Jeff Mangum there - it's the perfect setting.

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