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At the Orpheum
“Let’s try it,” seemed to be the motto of the night for Alex Ebert, the lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. With a twelve-man band playing a brand new album, Here, coming out on May 29th, Saturday’s show at the Orpheum was all about experimenting with their largely expanded song set.
“The last time I was in Boston,” Ebert told the crowd, “I was at T.T. the Bears playing for thirty people.” After being away for fourteen years, Ebert finally returned to a sold out show in one of Boston’s leading venues.
Illuminated by a giant paper lantern hanging from the ceiling, the stage had a celestial, psychedelic moonscape feel, adding to the transcendentalist nature of Edward Sharpe’s music.
“40 Day Dream” started off the show, beginning with soft whistles and slowly opening up to reveal the power of two drum sets, two pianos, and almost every other instrument one could imagine on stage: a trumpet, accordion, ukulele and, of course, plenty of tambourines.
With so much sound around him, Ebert’s commanding voice and trancelike chants demanded front stage. With linen pants, his shirt draping off one shoulder, a scraggly beard and long hair pinned and knotted in every way, his presence was that of a homeless messiah and his deep all-encompassing voice only strengthened his character.
He didn’t take long to enter the crowd, linen shirt draping off his shoulder. As he started ‘Carries On,’ he sat on the edge of the stage and asked a fan, “What is love? I don’t know what that word means.”
“It’s a feeling? Sounds good. I think I’m getting some of it now.”
Fellow singer Jade Castrinos was her normal quirky self, providing harmonic compliments as well as impressively powerful vocals to new songs like “I Don’t Want to Pray”, “Man on Fire”, and “Dear Believer”.
She took center stage for their second single off the new album, “That’s What’s Up”.
“We just figured out the lyrics, but I think we got this!” Castrinos said. The song went off flawlessly, as Castrinos used hand symbols to remind Ebert of the words. Their lighthearted playfulness exposed to the audience an undeniably strong friendship between the two musicians, especially as they sang, “You’ve got my love to lean on, darling/all the days/forever.”
One new song even showcased Ebert’s unique rapping skills, a talent he intended to pursue when he first began music.
There was a perfect balance between new, never before heard tracks and the ones that fans hold close to their hears from their first album. They began “Up from Below” with a crazy instrumental prelude, added an amazing trumpet solo to “Black Water”, and ended the show with “Home” and “Om Noshi Me”.
As he sang, “and I’ll love you forever,” out to those in the balcony, his eyes were warm, his heart open, and the experience genuine and raw. Through his pseudo spiritual style and transcendental presence, Ebert’s connection with the audience was palpable. During one song both him and Jade entered the crowd, holding and kissing the hands of their fans.
“Thanks for making this feel like home,” Ebert said, as he hopped offstage to meet everyone. After a powerful debut in Boston, fans are hoping Edward Sharpe won’t stay away for quite so long next time.