February 20, 2012

Jeff Mangum in Chicago, "How huge are his lungs?"

That question, "how huge are his lungs?" was just one shred floating out there in Twitterland after Jeff Mangum completely blew away all expectations during his first show in Chicago, Feb. 6, at The Athenaeum Theatre.

Reviews from earlier shows said he's better than ever before, and I agree. His voice was less reedy and his melodic dee dee dees and moans stronger than comes across on the records. Said another way, I went in wondering how the show would be without a backing band and was quickly glad no one else was around -- for most of the show -- to distract from Mangum. There was superb cello accompaniment on "Naomi," and the merry group that marched on stage for "The Fool" seemed to be exactly how that song should be played (rag tag, one big thumping drum, and so on).

Mangum encouraged sing alongs and shouted questions, and for most of the evening, the Chicago crowd offered up sincere, sharp questions. And we hung on every answer.

Quotes approximated:

What's he been doing?
"Living with the love of my life."
[Cheers and woots.]

What's he reading?
"The memoirs of (trailing off...) [barely a laugh or peep] ... A popular title, I can tell."

What are your thoughts on reincarnation?
"I'm doing it right now."

Who would win, Spider Man or Batman?
[with the most seriousness he showed all night] "I do not know."

Are you writing new material?

Do you like hot air balloons?

What's your favorite song to play?
"That last one, actually ["Oh, Comely"]

Will you play "Little Sister?"
[second-most seriousness] "Probably not."

It's hard to describe how happy he seemed. I'll try. At one point near the end of the show, he announced "Engine" and there was some applause and such, and someone right behind me said loudly, "Wait, what?" Another nearby man answered, "Engine," as everyone was listening, and amid the hubbub Mangum peered right back toward us and smiled with a sharp: "Engine."

When Mangum left the stage, it was my brother's friend with the gloomy-but-somehow-satisfied statement of the night: "And that's the last time we'll ever see Jeff Mangum."

Here's what the Tribune writer said about it, including a quote that he initially put out incorrectly via Twitter and which I may or may not have helped correct before the print version: review.

Set list:
Two Headed Boy Pt. 2
Holland, 1945
Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
Song Against Sex
Little Birds
The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1
The King of Carrot Flowers, Pts. 2 & 3
April 8th
Oh Comely
Two-Headed Boy
The Fool

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

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Blogger Chase said...

Wow. What a set list!

February 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM 
Blogger Fr. Mark Perkins said...

Great review. Jealous, naturally. Tom and I spent a good while talking about Jeff Mangum on the way to the Mountain Goats show.

February 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM 

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