Jeff Mangum at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 1/16/13: Review and Setlist
I knew that people would want to make some sort of connection with Mangum; for years, after all, it seemed that he'd never return. What was unexpected was the amount of warmth he gave back. At one point, he confessed that he never thought people would take the NMH records to heart, and declared himself "moved."
So: A satisfying performance by one of rock's most reticent icons, and a rare opportunity to hear Neutral Milk Hotel songs performed live. It's great to have Jeff Mangum back and performing, still, one wonders if he has been working on any new music behind the scenes. He's made Gamalan field recordings, drummed for the Circulatory System and DJ'd on WFMU, however, his last new song, "Little Birds," dates back to 1998. The pressure of following up a statement as succinct and effective as Aeroplane must be enormous, but I can't be alone in wanting to hear what he's up to now, in whatever form it takes. So here's hoping that Mangum stays around this time, but let's also hope that he feels comfortable enough to share whatever music (if any) he's been creating.
- Crowdwise, things got a little weird at the end. After "Ghost," Mangum left the stage, presumably to be called back for an encore. The woman standing next to me grabbed the setlist, which is standard acceptable concert behavior. What is not acceptable, however, is that fact that two dudes stole Mangum's throat spray (which he'd been using every other song) and water. Really? He just performed for you with a cold, even inviting you up onto the stage, and you repay him by stealing his water while demanding he play more? OK, so he was given them back before the encore of "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea," but he shouldn't have had to ask. It was also a little strange to see Mangum mobbed at the set's end like he was Morrissey, but he'd clearly faced that situation before and knew how to deftly make his way backstage.
- This is not the first time Mangum has battled illness in St. Louis. At NMH's Side Door show in 1997, he and horn player Scott Spillane both came down with the flu. Here's a clip of "Engine" (audio only) from that show:
King of Carrot Flowers Part 1
King of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 & 3
Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
Song Against Sex
Two-Headed Boy Part 2
In The Aeroplane Over the Sea