The Magic Numbers at Mercury Lounge 7/18/18

13 years after falling in love with The Magic Numbers I was resigned to the idea that I’d probably never see them play live. They last played in Chicago before I moved here (8 years ago) and have primarily played shows in the UK and South America. Short of flying to their hometown my chances to catch a show were pretty slim.

Miraculously they found a new team to get behind their latest record, Outsiders, and planned some dates here in the States. They still weren’t coming to Chicago, but the trip to NYC isn’t too long. I made plans with my wife (also a big TMN fan) and we flew in on Wednesday afternoon. After enjoying some great barbecue followed by a quick dessert at Milk, we headed to Mercury Lounge in the lower east side.

It’s a small venue, similar to Schubas here in Chicago. The lights are ok and the sound is great. We watched the opener, Minihorse, play with the house lights off so the only lighting was coming from below them courtesy of some of their own gear. Thank goodness The Magic Numbers used some more light of these pictures below would be really, really bad.

We bellied up to the stage along with a couple other photographers and got ready to enjoy the show. After such a long wait, I had my doubts about whether they could live up to the idea I had in my head. Not to worry-they shattered my expectations and then some.

They opened with two tracks from the new album before they started ripping through the old hits. Their debut, self-titled album has no less than 7 songs I consider classics and they have the fans a healthy dose. Their planned set list showed 12 songs, but people kept shouting and it quickly turned into 15 or so.

There was a real familial vibe in the air during the show. On top of the group being two sets of siblings, there were cousins and uncles and close friends all over in the audience. It felt more like a reunion than a concert, and in a lot of ways it was just that. Nine years since their last show in NYC (not counting the set the night before at Rough Trade), this was their chance to reintroduce themselves and let everyone know that they’re here to stay.

One of the highlights, for me, was that they played “Wayward” off Outsiders. It’s my favorite song on the new album and it blends in perfectly with their catalogue.

That was just one of many, of course. My throat is still scratchy from singing along and it’s been almost 48 hours. I had to be at work the next morning (in Chicago) so we had to get up at 5am, but it was well worth it to see one of our favorite groups. I would gladly do it again, but my fingers are crossed that they come back soon and hit a little bit closer to the Midwest.

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