Live: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros @ Northern Lights, 7/27/10

Alex Ebert
Alex Ebert

I love band names. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros seems like one of those typically ironic band names in large part because, of course, there’s no one in the band named Edward Sharpe.

The opening act, We Are Each Other, sports an infinitely more intriguing band name because, well, apparently we are indeed each other. Or at least the differences between ES&MZ and WAEO are minimal, at least on the surface.

We Are Each Other is essentially singer-songwriter-pianist Aaron Embry, and he kicked off his 35-minute opening set with a solo selection. But he was soon joined by just about the entire membership of the Magnetic Zeros.

Vocalist Jade Castrinos stepped up to sing one song, as did guitarist Christian Letts. But the sound mix was in such shambles that it was pretty much impossible to tell what exactly was going on onstage. The ragged songs just seemed to ramble by, and the vocals were usually buried to the point of inaudibility.

Then Embry reclaimed the lead vocal chores and delivered “This Is Not Our Home,” which brought everything together in perfect balance – the sound, the singing and the song. Part music hall romp, part country lope, part Salvation Army band anthem, the song was well constructed, featured a killer trumpet solo from Stewart Cole and built to a dramatic climax.

And, of course, there was the additional layer of irony in that “This Is Not Our Home” was the best song from the band that opened for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, whose best song is “Home.”

Alex Ebert – the tambourine shakin’ frontman for ES&MZ – made sure that the throwback hippie vibe was undeniable, from the opening Motown-meets-Fab Four sing-along “40 Day Dream” to the acoustic, let’s-all-sit-in-a-circle-on-the-floor-like-we’re-at-a-summer-camp-hootenanny encore of “Brother.”

The band’s other singer and Ebert’s apparent muse, the free-spirited Jade Castrinos added to the good vibrations, and although she surprisingly only got one solo turn in the spotlight – the refreshing “River of Love” – she was a focal point throughout the 85-minute set.

The sound was spot-on perfect throughout the set, whether the band was dishing out the old-school ’50s stroll of “Black Water,” the buoyant mariachi romp of “Home” or the tent revival meeting gospel of “Carries On.” The sprawling, nine-piece band – which included WAEO’s Aaron Embry on piano and harmonica – did their job as pied pipers for a magical mystery journey back to the sunshine-soaked sound of the ’60s.

Photographs by Jason Lehr. You can read his impressions of the show and also see more of his photographs of the show.

Josh Potter’s review in Metroland
An excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review in The Daily Gazette: “From the minute frontman, mastermind and all-around-ringleader Alex Ebert took the stage at about 9:45, he was high-fiving audience members, leaning in close to talk to fans he recognized – the cult-like group already has a cultish following, judging from the many out-of-towners at the show. Set opener “40 Day Dream,” with its sing-along Beatlesque refrain and loping rhythms, immediately got both crowd and band moving, and the assembled throngs continued to sweat and pulsate for the next hour and a half.”
My review in The Times Union

40 Day Dream
Carries On
River of Love
Up From Below
Black Water
Come in Please
Desert Song
Om Nashi Me
(??? new song: Come Dance With Me?)

Stewart Cole
Stewart Cole

Jade Castrinos
Jade Castrinos

Aaron Embry
Aaron Embry

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