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Reunions can be a tricky thing. Finally, after ten years away, the band you loved in college is back! On one hand, you have the bands that are significantly older… and not as good… and it kind of feels like a big cash grab in order to fund their impending retirement. BUT, luckily for music fans, it seems like most of the more recent reunions have been pretty fantastic. Over the pond, bands like Pulp and Blur have received rapturous responses for their reunions while America has played host to a number of classic reunions including The Replacements and Pixies.
However, while their performances may of been top notch, many of these reunions failed to deliver on one crucial point: new music. Perhaps a point of contention amongst some (would fans dare risk getting a weaker album and thus tarnishing a band’s legacy?), but at the very least it shows a band who is willing to move past the performance aspect of reunions and further delve into the creative aspects that they may have long since forgotten. Bands like Wire had proven the naysayers wrong, adding to their small discography a few incendiary albums. Mazzy Star, one of the least likely to reunite, also proved the doubters wrong by providing a true successor to their previous work, this year’s gorgeous Seasons of Your Day.
Their actual reunion dated back to early 2012. Pulling them back in with open arms, the state of California welcomed the band back after nearly twelve years away and Mazzy Star rewarded their patience with a gorgeous, slow-burning performance at Coachella. The desert air swept up singer Hope Sandoval’s vocals and whisked them into the bright and bleary stars, sprinkling them over those lucky to be in the know and in attendance.
While Europe also got their Mazzy Star fix in 2012, America’s northeast had to wait until late this year to experience it for themselves. Our patience was rewarded with a handful of tour dates which were rapturously received. A sold-out Paradise awaited Mazzy Star and the buzz was palpable. Intermingled amongst the Paradise’s cozy corridors were fans of all ages; old couples looking to reignite the lust they had when they first heard Mazzy Star years ago and newer fans looking to find enlightenment in what they missed long ago.
Luckily for both, Mazzy Star touched on all four of their albums in near equal amounts. Cuts from the aforementioned Seasons of Your Day were warmly received, yet there was some apprehension in the crowd. The tunes were good, but then it goes back to that idea of a band’s legacy. Mazzy Star’s last album, pre-reunion, was 1996’s Among My Swan. Many fans here had nearly twenty years to love these albums and grow up with them, so of course there was some confusion to be had. But cuts like “California” and “In The Kingdom” felt vital and important, like the sound of a band finding their feet again and immediately starting to run.
However, there was no surprise in what received the biggest reactions from the crowd. “Cry, Cry” set the mood; both nostalgic and new, happy and sad. Contradictions don’t run in Mazzy Star’s music, but there was a sense of both starting anew and respecting the past in this performance. “Into Dust” and “She Hangs Brightly” both drew huge applause from the crowd while the band sounded excellent. Again, this isn’t a reunion that is coasting by on reputation. Sandoval may need a small tablet to remind her of the lyrics, but her voice was pure and beautiful; the crystallized essence of herself twenty years ago when she first sang these songs. Co-write and guitarist David Robak preferred to stay further back, blending in with the rest of the band while he crafted spiraling guitar lines and reached and yearned. All the while, the backdrop was a moving video of the universe, truly projecting the band’s own take on cosmic Americana.
“Fade Into You,” of course, drew the most rapturous response from the entire crowd. Couples slowly moved together, eyes closed or looking at the ground, as they gently danced and swayed to the romantic ballad; one got the feeling that this song helped many of these couple’s realize their dream of having a family come to fruition. Keep in mind, that isn’t to say Mazzy Star are some sort of a one hit wonder. Their entire set was peppered with true pop gems, cosmic ballads that swooned and sighed and reached for the stars and the moon. Even though it was at the Paradise, you could feel the Californian breeze and hear the soft sway of trees in the distance. For a moment, the entire crowd’s minds were warped in the most subtle of ways; transported to a more beautiful and gentle world, we all gently sighed along to Sandoval’s beautiful voice.