Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Old Vic Tunnels (London 10.03.2011)

photo: Anka Dolewa

My love for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is something I don't understand. I've never been a fan of American music, not to mention American folk, indie folk, country and western (whatever you choose to label them them), never fancied bearded guys in checked shirts, never liked Jade-like ladies jumping on stage, and I found the sound of trumpet highly irritable but ever since the day when browsing the Internet I stumbled upon their Rough Trade in-store performance I've been mesmerized by the magnetic power of the Zeros. For over a year I've kept their CD in my car radio and listened to it every day never ever getting bored. I guess this says something...

So the magnetic power of the Zeros dragged us (me, my husband and our friend) all the way from Gdansk to London to experience one of the most magic nights in our lives. The evening actually started badly for us because the See Tickets agent did not deliver our tickets to the ladies at the gate, who did their best to sort out the mess and in the end we were let in, but were late for the performances which opened the show. Fortunately we were able to see some of the acts all of which fitted the old, chilly, misty (musty?) railway tunnels perfectly, introducing us to the country and western theme of the night. I must admit that the wait for the gig to begin was a bit too long, especially for somebody who got up at 3 am, but finally we all gathered in front of the stage and were greeted by the supporting artist Rocco DeLuca, who provided an excellent warm up. Then another long wait, this time squeezed among I guess all the Americans that live in UK. Suddenly, a chant started at the back of the hall,  um-pa-um-pa paparapapa, I thought it was the fans getting impatient when I heard them getting closer, turned around and saw Alex and the whole bunch of those wonderful nuts just behind our backs trying to make their way towards the stage. Once on stage they reached for their instruments and microphones and the whole madness of Jangling Song began with everyone jumping and singing. And the atmosphere stayed like this until the very end. They played mostly the songs everyone was familiar with, but in new, improvised versions, sometimes combining two songs into one, with Alex's monologues replacing the album lyrics, but also they introduced us to some new material and let the piano player Aaron sing a song for us (he is such a likeable guy, with his infectious smile). "Home", saved till the very end, made a great finale of the whole show with fans being asked to literally participate in the event by sharing their stories and emotions. This certainly was a night of magic. Throughout the whole gig we could see how happy these guys were to play music, how close they are together and how much they wanted us, their fans, to join in this simple joy. Rare thing in this world.

photo: Anka Dolewa

But this was not the end. We sadly left Old Vic Tunnels only to be met by the band giving the most outstanding, most touching, most real open air music performance I've seen in my life. With no microphones and amplifiers they made their songs float along the railway tunnel. Like some religious sect surrounded by their followers clapping and singing. Oh brother... you made me cry.
The very moment the performance was over we felt we needed to see them again. I've noticed they are planning a European tour this summer, and actually playing in Sweden (a stone's throw across the sea). Tempting, but I feel that during an open air festival a large portion of intimacy is lost. Who knows, perhaps they will return to Old Vic? They seemed to like the place as well.

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