Magnetic Fields

by Oliver Rose

Photo credit: Genius.

Lending new dimension to the already niche concept of cynical cabaret, the Magnetic Fields bring their touring production of 50 Song Memoir to Bristol this September.

The ensemble, led by the razor-witted songsmith Stephin Merritt, are performing all fifty tracks from this year’s album, across two evenings, and in a very theatrical setting, complete with props and set design. Expect to see remaining the staples of the Magnetic Fields’ live performances – Merritt playing ukulele on a stool; Sam Devol’s cello wizardry – embedded in a new, broader-sounding setup complete with Merritt’s beloved synthesisers.

And rest easy if you’ve any reservations about the pre-decided nature of this gig’s set. There won’t be any surprises here per se, but 50 Song Memoir is a varied and changeable beast – as well as the tonal alterations between songs, there’s its transference to a live setting to consider. Put short: if you’re a fan, you won’t care… and if you’re new? Well, this is as good an intro as any.

Featuring songs about hippy copulation, television-marketed budget disco compilations, John Foxx, an abandoned Ang Lee motion picture and, naturally, sadomasochistic romance, 50 Song Memoir is an bizarre and enthralling production. Its Brechtican absurdity is perfectly suited to a touring cabaret of seemingly normal middle-agers, and it will, no doubt, have you laughing, crying and everything in-between.