Love rules as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros hit the road in Santa Ana

Written by Tim Wheaton / Photos by Tim Wheaton

March 27, 2012

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
The Observatory
Santa Ana, CA
March 14, 2012

 

 

On March 5, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros announced the highly anticipated follow up to large ensemble’s hailed debut, Up From Below (2009), would be hitting the shelves on May 29, 2012 (Vagrant Records).  Entitled Here, not much is known about the album other than the facts that recording originally took place in Bogalusa, LA before moving on to Ojai, CA and that it is a fully self-produced effort. Until Monday, March 26, a track listing was not even available.

On the same day that the album announcement was made, so too were spring and summer tour plans.

They began on this night in Santa Ana, CA and quite the night it was.

Understanding that the insanely packed house wasn’t there to hear a load of numbers that no one had ever heard, the evening opened with a couple of Up From Below tracks, including the song that officially put the eclectic group on the map, “Fire and Water.”

As one would expect, the band did bring out new material, something that the room filled with Magnetic adoration welcomed. First up, “I Don’t Wanna Pray.”

This number brought the band into a gathered semi-circle towards the front of the stage, a deliberate attempt at recreating the way in which front man Alex Ebert stated that it was recorded,  “all in one room together.”

As the night progressed, so did Ebert’s conversation with the crowd, his yearning to bring everyone into the experience as evident as the beard on his face. Providing unique insight into his disdain for contracts when introducing “Dirty Ink.” He later offered another tidbit of early news when he informed the Observatory crowd that there would not just be one release from the band this summer, but rather, there would be two; deliberately divulging “we are kinda doing a double album this time” before pausing and saying “oh, i probably shouldn’t have said that” and finally asking his adoring legion to “keep it a secret.”

Making his way into the crowd for the first time during “Man on Fire” that included briefly sloppy forays into “I’ll Be the Church, You Be The Steeple and an extensive take on “One Love” with female vocalists Jade Castrinos and Nico Agliett rising high above the all else in The Observatory.

Upon conclusion and in reference to “Man On Fire,” Jade (who also plays guitar) peered out and back to her band mates with a questioning look, asking and then affirming “that was the first time we’ve played that song in front of anyone besides us.”

Closing things out, Ebert’s vision was finally fulfilled when he and the audience officially swapped spots during “Om Nashi Me.” In the spirit of The Flaming Lips and Michael Franti, the audience filled the stage until there was not a single inch of space left for any more bodies. Naturally Ebert’s departure made room for one more and by the time he ambled his way back to the stage, his nimble footwork and wiry frame did not cause much of a stir amongst the sardine-like packed perch.

On its whole, there were many sloppy moments — the sloppiest being when Ebert forgot the lyrics to “Truth,” a cut from his 2011 solo album –  but there was not a soul in the house who seemed to care in the slightest. This gig was about love for a band that runs deep and a deep reciprocation that comes back from the stage. More or less, fans felt fortunate to be in the room and the band was grateful for their presence. That warmth can see past some mistakes, especially on the first night on stage after nearly a year off the road.

 

Setlist

 

Janglin, Carries On,  I Love My God, If You Wanna, Fire Water (River of Love), 40 Day Dream, Up from Below, Black Water, I Don’t Wanna Pray*, If You Wanna*,  Man On Fire**,  Milton***, Truth**** (Alexander cover), Child, Angels***, Home, Om Nashi Me

 

NOTES: *Indicates tracks that were known at the time and will appear on Here // **Indicates titles that were not known at the time and may appear on Here

*** Indicates tracks that were known at the time and will not appear on Here. // **** Indicates a track from Alex Ebert’s solo album, Alexander

 

Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photo(s) from the show by Tim Wheaton