The Magnetic Fields announce Philharmonic Hall double date as part of groundbreaking UK tour

The Magnetic Fields

The Magnetic Fields (credit: Marcelo Krasilcic)

The Magnetic Fields are preparing a 50 song Liverpool double-date at the end of the summer, Getintothis’ Craig MacDonald is here with the scoop.

The Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt will bring his new album, 50 Song Memoir, to Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall for not one but two late summer dates on September 3-4.

In an unusual step, The Magnetic Fields will play consecutive nights at the same venue in a range of cities across the country, including Liverpool. This will allow the whole album to be presented in all its glory, with Merritt planning on performing all 50 songs from his latest career-defining work.

Released earlier this month, 50 Song Memoir invokes the spirit of Merritt and sheds a light on his unique songwriting prowess. With each song reflecting a distinct year in his life, the record promises to be a mix of the autobiographical and the acutely observed. Along with the lyrical insight into Merritt’s personality and experiences, the album is based on a wide and adventurous sonic palette

The stage set for the night will be similarly idiosyncratic. Based around Merritt‘s fifty years on Planet Earth, it will comprise various artefacts collected over the course of those years, both musical and decorative. Seven different performers will bring the songs to life using an array of traditional instruments as well as those invented during the course of Merritt‘s lifetime.

Providing a glimpse into the creation of 50 Song Memoir, Merritt says, “I had just completed a rigorously fact-based mini-musical for the radio show This American Life, and it seemed like an idea I could take further, with myself as subject.

So I started recording at my fiftieth birthday party — which I forgot to put on the album — and meant to finish in a year; I was seven months late. Most of the recording I did at home, as usual, with the plan to use fifty instruments, but I ended up playing twice that, and involving thirteen other performers (who played forty other instruments). The record also expanded into the past as I incorporated recordings from thirty years ago, and fragments of songs I wrote as a teenager.

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The Magnetic Fields have long attracted a cult following with a diverse array of fans, including Peter Gabriel and Barack Obamamany of whom hold their triple album 69 Love Songs to be their magnum opus. How will the latest offering compare? We’d encourage you to reserve final judgement until you’ve seen it in the flesh at the Philharmonic Hall in September.

The Magnetic Fields play Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on September 3-4 with full UK tour dates as follows:

  • August 25-26: King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
  • August 28-29: The National Concert Hall, Dublin
  • August 31- September 1: Colston Hall, Bristol
  • September 3-4: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
  • September 6-7: Brighton Dome, Brighton
  • September 9-10: The Barbican, London