It’s one thing for a band to play a great show musically. It’s a whole other level for a band to bring a great experience to the entire venue; that’s exactly what fans and the band – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – shared at Metropolis last night. From their well-balanced, 10-man strong stage presence to letting the audience choose which songs to play next to frontman Alex Ebert’s whimsical dancing and considerable chatting with the audience, the performance was one of the rare ones that actually sounded better live.
The night opened up with a performance by charming Australian singer/songwriter Hein Cooper, who is signed to Montreal-based label, Indica Records. The (very tall) one-man show graced us with just his voice, a guitar (he played electric and acoustic) and a loop pad to create catchy rhythms. Catch our in-person interview with him here.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic zeros opened with “Let It Down” and “40 Day Dream,” leaving fans instantly hooked. Sharpe, who sported his classic deranged look (read: could easily be mistaken for a homeless man), brought out some lyric sheets for “Life is Hard”, claiming it was “one of the few songs I don’t know all the lyrics to.” Sharpe lit up a cigarette and grabbed a glass of wine on stage, while the band jammed in the background and he let the audience choose the next track. The night continued in a song-chat-song-chat manner with “Up From Below,” “All you’ve ever wanted” and “Janglin'” all chosen by the audience. After noticing a tambourine in the audience and asking if anyone else had brought their own instruments, Sharpe played a fan’s harmonica. He followed up with one of his own songs, “Truth” to which most of the audience whistled and waved their arms.
Sharpe communicated his love for the new album, PersonA, for which the tour is in support of, saying “Whenever you don’t know a song, it’s probably our new album – it’s honestly my favorite. I’m bias, I know.” He continued chatting with the audience, asking people their names and where they’re from, while expressing wanting to get to know us all, but simply not having enough time. He made a joke about a few people catching him peeing outside before the show, before moving onto the 7+ minute “Hot Coals,” which was seemingly half improvised, and “I Don’t Want to Pray.”
While Sharpe expressed his desire to learn french, he crowd “surfed” up a beer for him while chanting a french drinking song. It had everyone up in laughs as he slowly sipped the beer. The band then played fan-favorites, “Better Days” and “Man on Fire.”
And then came “Home,” the engine behind their initial growth. Since Jade’s departure from the band, Sharpe has been letting fans tell their stories during the talking part of the song. Among the heartfelt stories, the favorite was certainly of an audience member who reminisced about Sharpe’s 2015 Osheaga performance where he brought a man in a wheelchair on stage, to which Sharpe confessed having cried in the hotel about later that night.
The psych-folk-indie-pop band closed the night with John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” and no encore because “we don’t go off stage and come back on.” The concert-goers were buzzing and cheering as they thanked everyone and walked off stage.
Despite any slack their recent fourth album has been receiving, it was clear that the audience was a fan of their new and old tracks alike. Overall, it was a joyful concert and the vibe in Metropolis was cheerful and strong the whole night through, much of which is due to Sharpe’s desire to truly engage with the audience, making each show unique.