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My colleague Sam Worley (whose excellent story on crossword puzzles I can't recommend enough) saw last Monday's Magnetic Fields show at the Vic, and on Friday weighed in once more, arguing, if I may take the liberty of paraphrasing, that Stephin Merritt is more troubadour than glibly cynical wit (and if you don't buy that, check out this, where Merritt ignores the cluelessness of an early-morning Atlanta news-show host and just quietly and heartbreakingly hits it home).*
I saw the Tuesday show at the Vic, with Kelly Hogan opening.
The first time I ever heard of the Magnetic Fields, I confess, was seven years ago, when I saw Miss Kelly and Scott Ligon cover "Papa Was a Rodeo" on a cube-size corner stage in the front bar at the Hideout. To see her lead in a venue so much larger, with Scott and Casey MacDonough (also among her bandmates in the wonderful Flat Five), was thrilling. The only downside was the dude in front of me, who clapped not once and just slumped there, swilling beer sullenly.
I wanted to shake his lank-haired neck.
"Do you not like Mavis? Do you not like Neko? Do you not realize that Miss Kelly backs these ladies? What are you even doing here if you can't appreciate whump-ass versions of songs by Robyn Hitchcock (the title track, 'I Like to Keep Myself in Pain'), Andrew Bird ('We Can't Have Nice Things'), Jon Langford ('Haunted'), and Vic fucking Chestnutt ('Ways of the World'), among others, all written for Miss Kelly herself? Go home and shoe gaze while your sideburns grow out some more."
OK, I'm hardly an enforcer. I'm a crabby old lady bearing a cane. But I would like inert dude to know that this Miss Kelly standard, while quite arguably twee, is still pretty awesome. Witness this:
*h/t Mark Guarino