Photo by: Marcelo Krasilcic

Review by Sophie Lentz


On Monday night, the Magnetic Fields returned to Boston, where they first formed 35 years ago, to an audience full of warm recognition and cheers. When they strolled on stage and took their seats with instruments in hand, the audience witnessed the homecoming of a family reunited once again.

This night was not just a typical concert but the 25th anniversary tour of their unparalleled 1999 album, “69 Love Songs.” This three-volume concept album, consisting of almost three hours of songs, was performed in its entirety for two nights. The concert was explicitly for this album, and as band leader Stephin Merritt amusingly put it, “those who request otherwise will endure obscenities.”

Known for their experimental indie rock mixed with electronic and acoustic sounds, Merritt’s baritone voice, resonating across the room, truly rounds off the iconic sound of the Magnetic Fields. While Merritt sang the majority of songs, there were also vocal appearances by members Claudia Gonson for “Washington DC” and “Yeah! Oh, Yeah!” as well as Shirley Simms singing and occasionally strumming the ukulele in “Kiss Me Like You Mean It” and “I’m Sorry I Love You,” giving them a bit more of a folk touch. 

The band immediately elicited a trance with their opening song, “World Love,” through their fusion of ukulele, guitar, and shakers and the psychedelic lighting patterns slowly metamorphosed on the stage curtains. All band members were perched on their stools, their demeanor relaxed, and soft smiles resting on all their faces. 

This was my first time seeing the Magnetic Fields in concert, but they were seasoned performers who knew the audience they were presenting to. This band had the most relaxed, unbothered moods, which is bound to come out having performed these songs for 25 years. Hardly any talking took place on stage except for a few jokes, one-liners, and casual conversation between band members. 

On Monday night, The Magnetic Fields demonstrated their varied discography. My personal favorites were their more sentimental songs that discuss love in a more direct form, such as “Papa Was a Rodeo” and “Epitaph for My Heart,” which are slower, soothing tracks with rich guitar notes sustaining them.

However, for those who prefer more experimental, comedic love songs, there are still plenty of options to have a good chuckle over, especially with “Zebra” and “Acoustic Guitar,” which dance around the idea of love in a witty, unserious manner. Of course, their classic synth-heavy tracks like “I Shatter” and “Experimental Music Love” strongly contrast the other songs in the album.

This warm return of the Magnetic Fields and their “69 Love Songs” was a joy. Their concert allowed me to transcend the walls of Roadrunner into my cerebral hallucination of love, comedy, and electronic experimentation.