The Magnetic Fields rolled into Carrboro on Wednesday for the first show of a two-night stand at the Cat's Cradle.
Songwriter Stephin Merritt and the band rolled through a 28-song set which spanned the band's entire career, though it heavily featured the band's new album Love at the Bottom of the Sea.
Merritt's dry, quirky humor was on display throughout the evening, most notably when he pointed out numerous times that Merge Records had "defected" and was no longer based in Chapel Hill, but in Durham. After stating that Chapel Hill people should be on one side of the room while Durham should go to the other he said that everyone from Raleigh is gay and should just come on stage.
The synth-heavy tunes from new album worked well in the stripped back acoustic setting of the live show, highlights of which were "Your Girlfriend's Face," "Goin' Back to the Country" and "Andrew in Drag."
Guitarist and cellist John Woo and Sam Davol shined, laying down a sparse, yet textured foundation for that allowed Merritt's songs to shine. Claudia Gonson and Shirley Simms sounded fantastic too, singing many of the songs not quite suited for Merritt's distinctive bass voice.
The band have played the same songs on the tour, but the order in the set varies from time to time. The inclusion of some deep cuts including "Plant White Roses" from Merritt's rarities collection Obscurities as well as the old Gothic Archies tune "Smile! No One Cares How You Feel," which closed the main set.
The one unique song that the Carrboro crowd got was the first song of the encore. The band was joined by Superchunk singer and Merge Records co-founder Mac McCaughan to reprise his lead vocal role on The 6ths song "Dream Hat."
The evening ended with "Tar-Heel Boy" and the mellow crooner "Forever and a Day." It was a fitting ending for the career-spanning set.
Devotchka opened the show as a trio, thrilling the crowd with a rousing set of gypsy folk rock. Highlights included "100 Other Lovers" and "Queen of the Surface Streets." Hopefully they'll make their way back to the Triangle soon for a proper headlining gig.
Tickets are still available for tonight's show (April 12) via Etix for $28.
The Magnetic Fields setlist
A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off
Your Girlfriend's Face
Come Back from San Francisco
No One Will Ever Love You
I've Run Away to Join the Fairies
Plant White Roses
Drive On, Driver
My Husband's Pied-a-Terre
Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old
The Horrible Party
Smoke and Mirrors
Goin' Back to the Country
Andrew in Drag
Busby Berkeley Dreams
The Book of Love
Fear of Trains
You Must Be Out of Your Mind
It's Only Time
Smile! No One Cares How You Feel
Dream Hat (w/ Mac McCaughan)
Forever and a Day