The Magnetic Fields @ BAM, Brooklyn 2/13/10

The chamber folk of the Magnetic Fields latest, Realism, was the center point for a two-hour seated affair at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Saturday night. It was the night before Valentine’s Day, but of course that was a mostly meaningless designation to sardonic Stephin. “It’ll be Valentine’s Day soon,” Claudia Gonson offered at one point. “It’ll be Monday after that,” Merritt responded. Gonson: “Monday is the day of the moon.” Stephin: “Valentine’s is the day of martyrs.” And so on. So no, 69 Love Songs wasn’t given much love, though that didn’t mean the night was without its caustic and deadpan lover’s laments (like “The One You Really Love,” or i’s “I Don’t Really Love You Anymore”). Realism is the companion piece to 2008’s Jesus & Mary Chaining Distortion, and this show similarly mirrored that album’s support show at Town Hall back then: Mag Field kin Shirley Simms, Claudia Gonson, guitarist John Woo, cellist Sam Davol, and Merritt lined up left to right. Lots of Realism (“You Must Be Out Of Your Mind,” “Interlude,” “We Are Having A Hootenany,” “I Don’t Know What To Say,” “The Doll’s Tea Party,” and “Always Already Gone”), lots of Stephin droll take-downs of Claudia’s banter. As always, Stephin’s demeanor was like we were doing him a favor by being there, which, fair enough. And as always, the crowd was engaged in a mostly insufferable game of self-congratulatory guffaws for catching the finer points of Merritt’s wry phrases. (Gabe knows what I’m talking about.) A little sleepy, and not the Valentine’s date night some would have hoped, but what do you expect from a guy who is upfront about needing a new heart. The band will be back for three shows at Town Hall in March. Until then, there are options: the Mag Fields doc trailer, Peter Gabriel scratching Stephin’s back (and Stephin scratching back), and these photos by Natasha Ryan. Also, upcoming tour dates:

02/21 – Portland, OR @ The Aladdin Theater
02/22 – Portland, OR @ The Aladdin Theater
02/23 – Seattle, WA @ Town Hall
02/24 – Seattle, WA @ Town Hall
02/27 – Oakland, CA @ The Fox Theater
03/01 – San Francisco, CA @ Herbst Theatre
03/02 – Los Angeles, CA @ Wilshire Ebell Theatre
03/04 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theatre
03/05 – Bloomington, IN @ Burskirk Chumley Tehatre
03/06 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
03/07 – Chicago, IL @ Harris Theater at Millenium park
03/10 – New York, NY @ Town Hall
03/11 – New York, NY @ Town Hall
03/12 – New York, NY @ Town Hall
03/19 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Cathedral
03/21 – Leamington Spa, UK @ The Assembly Spencer Street
03/22 – London, UK @ Barbican Centre
03/24 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Filadelfiakyrkan
03/25 – Oslo, Norway @ Rockefeller
03/27 – Berlin, Germany @ Babylon
03/29 – Hamburg, Germany @ Fabrik
03/30 – Frankfurt, Germany @ Mousonturm
03/31 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ De Duif Prinsengracht 756