Concert Review: Austin's in Love with Jeff Mangum
4/30/2012 2:06:00 PM
For many music fans, the chance to see reclusive singer Jeff Mangum, frontman of critically lauded indie pioneers Neutral Milk Hotel is a bucket list item if ever there were one. So when news came about that he’d not only be heading back out on the road to perform songs from the NMH catalogue, but that he’d make an Austin stop along the way, fans clamored for their chance to catch the semi-retired musician in the flesh.
And boy, were they not disappointed. The show was opened by Mangum’s fellow Elephant 6 collective members - Andrew Rieger (Elf Power), Scott Spillane (the Gerbils, NMH) and Laura Carter (Elf Power) – each of whom made their way back to the stage (after a 30 minute intermission) to assist Mangum in achieving a studio-like sound quality. When the man of the hour took the stage, the applause was uproarious, his presence on stage a longtime wish fulfilled for most in attendance.
No song was complete without shouts of “I LOVE YOU!” from the crowd, many of which Mangum dealt back. As he belted out standards such as “The King of Carrot Flowers Part 1,” and “Holland, 1945,” he encouraged audience participation, asking fans to join along, many of which were more than happy to oblige.
Other tracks included “Naomi,” from the band’s first full-length album, “The King of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 & 3,” (which had the crowd belting “I Love You, Jesus Christ” at the top of their lungs,) and the closer, the enchanting “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea,” which surely inspired some tears throughout the audience.
With a resurgence tour from an artist who’s exiled himself post-fame, it’s easy to worry that things won’t go well onstage. Yet as Mangum performed his catalogue with confidence and an ability that seems not to have lost its lustre, that doubt wilted away rather quickly. There was a lot of love going on at Austin’s Moody Theater last night, and it was a beautiful thing.