When Stephin Merritt of The Magnetics Fields announced that he was going to be coming through the Twin Cities on his most recent “50 Song Memoir” tour, indie music fans around the cities rejoiced. The Magnetic Fields are a staple in the indie music scene and are a major “bucket list” live show for many, including myself, so walking into the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday night was more exciting than usual. The crowd was full of early twenty-something’s like me and quite a large amount of middle aged fans sporting tour tees for other favorite bands.
Saturday’s show wasn’t just any normal show, it was part one of a two night event where Magnetic Fields’ singer, Stephin Merritt, would perform his entire new album, “50 Song Memoir,” in total. “50 Song Memoir” is an album with one song for each year in his life. The album was released on his 50th birthday and contained a mixture of autobiographical and documentary-type songs.
As everyone else made their way into the venue and settled into their seats, I overheard an older couple talking about how they had met at a Magnetic Fields show after and after multiple kids and many years together, it had changed their lives. I had a feeling that this wasn’t the only story like this, because the theater was so full of happiness and love. The stage was set up like a room in a house with busy wallpaper and windows that showed glimpses of Merritt’s backing musicians.
When Stephin Merritt finally took the stage, a respectful silence overcame the crowd. Directed by Jose Zayas, he pretty much jumped right into the album, starting right from the beginning. The first song, “Wonder Where I’m From,” talks about being conceived in the Virgin Islands and being raised in so many different places that there’s no true answer to “where are you from?” Each song only got more exciting and engrossing from there. The album was released in 2015, so lots of the audience was quietly singing along and *all* of them were dancing in their own ways, swaying their shoulders and tapping their hands on their knees. I found myself immediately getting into the groove of even the songs I didn’t know, becoming engrossed in the stories that Merritt was telling.
After exactly 25 songs the album was halfway over, but Stephin Merritt’s time in St. Paul had only just begun. Everyone filed out with just as much excitement as they had entered, knowing that the show had more to come the next day.