Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros thrill in Boston

A review of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros at the Orpheum Theatre on May 12, 2012

, Staff Writer

Not content to ride the long coattails that “Home” has given them over the past couple of years, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are back with a second album, Here. Although the album doesn’t actually hit stores till later this month, the band has hit the road to promote its release. Led by Alex Ebert, the 11-piece band recently made their way to Boston to showcase it and old favorites at the Orpheum Theatre.

The undeniable chemistry between Ebert, Jade Castrinos and the rest of the ensemble can’t be denied, and it all came together to create a musical experience that was immensely enjoyable and filled to the brim with catchy tunes.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros took the stage, opening up with a simple but uplifting tune that, naturally, started with an attention-grabbing, warbling whistle. The band simply repeated the phrase “sing a song” over and over again with dense harmonies, putting together something totally unique. It was a great way to kick things off, forging a sense of cohesion between musicians and members of the audience (not singing along by the time the song reached its apex was virtually impossible). From there, the band followed up with “40 Day Dream,” the first track off the band’s 2009 debut album Up from Below. Ebert really got into the groove as the song built up, grooving alongside his sweetheart without a care in the world. Castrinos was happy to join him, of course.

The rest of the band happily strummed, struck and blew into their instruments, providing excellent backup. It was impressive to watch a relatively large group of musicians make their way through the show without so much as a hiccup.

Plenty of new songs made their way into the set, as well. “Man On Fire” was a particularly catchy tune, a more fleshed-out Simon and Garfunkel-esque piece that ended on the traditional Magnetic Zeros climax.

The band was happy to change things up a bit, too. In many ways, the show was a demonstration of how far they’ve come and how positive their reception has been. They showed a willingness to change up their formula throughout the evening, and a little diversity definitely never hurts at a show like this. Another new song called “Child”, which usually features Alex on vocals, was taken by guitarist Christian Letts.

The show was also full of a wide range of musical ideas. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros easily wove their way from folk to psychedelic to gospel with incredible ease. A large group like this certainly brings a lot of pallets to the table, and each member was able to work in his or her own tastes at some point during the performance.

Naturally, the highlight of the evening for many was the band’s breakthrough hit “Home.” It only took the first few notes of the instantly recognizable opening melody to send the crowd into a frenzy. Everyone was singing along and dancing in their seats. Ebert and Castrinos were equally pleased, singing happily to one another throughout. Just for good measure, though, the band closed things out with “Om Nashi Me,” which ensured everyone left on a high note, with its slow build and gentle, swaying rhythm.

In all, it’s hard to not have fun seeing a band like Edward Sharpe¬†and the Magnetic Zeros. They put together a musical experience that’s unlike any other, drawing from a huge pool of tastes and influences. It can be difficult for bands to bounce back from a wildly popular song, but they seem to be doing just that with “Home.” The new material sounds fantastic and definitely indicates an artistic growth in between albums.

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