It was a show we gave up on years and years ago. Jeff Mangum was a recluse, and we felt lucky to have the body of work he recorded and released with his bandmates in the 90s. All of a sudden, the impossible was happening. He resurfaced for a benefit show. We were there for those first five songs, and it was glorious. Jeff then decided to keep it going, playing much more than a handful of solo shows over the next few years. We showed up to half a dozen, and they were each better than the last. That was it, we filled the void. Nothing could be better, not even a reunion with the full band. How untrue! Jeff’s solo performances were special, and we watched several with childish glee. The full band, on the other hand, was something to behold. All original members were on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night: Jeremy Barnes on drums, Scott Spillane on horns, Julian Koster on singing saw, and Mangum on guitar and vocals. The live versions of these songs we fell in love with long ago sounded better than we could imagine.
The setlist could not have been more perfect if we made the song requests ourselves. How do you start a show with “Oh Comely,” seriously? The absolute highlight of the night was “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” with Kostner’s haunting singing saw, the lone element that kept Mangum’s solo version from perfection. The sheer energy and heart these players put forth, along with a deep sense of humility and gratefulness, was overwhelming at times. What a fucking show!