The Redwood City, Californian ("just west of Chicago") said last night that it was his longest time he's ever spent in Minneapolis... but had lived in the midwest for good time.
Ashworth was also very thankful for the incredibly respectful audience, as the singer noted that it's not always the case when he sings these quiet songs.
Accompanying Stephin Merritt on stage was cellist Sam Davol, also from the Magnetic Fields. Since the set list was put together with very specific order, the two would often take a little time to tune on every couple of songs. This is the challenge of doing some of these concept shows (particularly with the recent popularity of "full album" tours). Thankfully, there is a small blessing to these tuning moments, Merritt would often give brief introductions to songs to break the awkward silence.
The two started their set a little after 9pm with "Andrew in Drag", followed by the timely choice of "The Book of Love", which is enjoying a top ten single in the Netherlands and Dublin charts, thanks Irish singer Gavin James covering the Magnetic Fields song. Coincidentally enough, we will be seeing James tonight (May 16th) with Kodaline. I'll be listening to see if he plays "The Book of Love" on his live set.
Other interesting tidbits from Merritt's set included a The 6ths song "Give Me Back My Dreams", written by Merritt but originally sung by English singer Sally Timms.
I didn't know this, but the Magnetic Fields song "A Pretty Girl Is Like..." was in response to Irving Berlin's "racist standard" song "A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody".
"Xylophone Track" was dedicated to BB King, who recently passed away in his sleep in Las Vegas on May 14 at age 89 (to Type II Diabetes). Incidentally, according to Spotify, their streams of the music of BB King have "increased by 9800%" following the iconic musician's death.
My personal highlight was the Gothic Archies' "Shipwrecked", which got plenty of laughs from the audience. If you didn't know, the band featured Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, and was meant as a soundtrack of sort for his book, "A Series of Unfortunate Events". You can read about the project on weheartmusic from 2007.
The rest of the 90-min set goes pretty much as you would expect for the A to Z, ending on the 25th song "Your Girlfriend's Face" and with the 26th song reserved for the encore, "Zombie Boy".
If you love the various works (and unique deep, deep bass vocals) of Stephin Merritt, you definitely need to see this memorable A-Z tour.
Remaining tour dates:
06/09 Sinclair - Cambridge, MA
06/24 Spiegeltent - Annandale on Hudson, NY
Stephin Merritt (with Sam Davol) at Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis (15 May 2015)