Photo Credit: Luz Gallardo
Last night the Paradise hosted Mazzy Star, an honor as the band has reformed after almost two decades of silence. One-off festival gigs aside, the preeminent US dream-gaze band has been touring this fall in support of their fourth album Seasons of Your Day. Yet, for the sold out show, the focus was scoring a dose of narcotic nostalgia from Hope Sandoval and David Roback.
Lush visuals back-lit the five musicians, with Sandoval at center stage flanked by double synths and a tambourine stand. Roback took turns standing and sitting with guitar–alternating acoustic, electric, and pedal steel to establish each song’s tone. Resonate organ chords from Suki Ewers opened and closed songs, but for much of night her keys seemed under amplified. Keith Mitchell played drums; somewhere there was a guy on bass. I think.
From most vantage points beyond front row the band appeared as silhouetted blurs.
Given their reclusive sound and persona, the candlelit stage and sparse stage banter made sense. However, the overly talkative crowd didn’t quite match the mood. One guy felt the need to yell out, “be quiet during the songs” as the Paradise didn’t become his anticipated dream-cocoon that would savor each haunting syllable. I think the set list was partly to blame, opening with “Look on Down from the Bridge” and “Cry, Cry,” two songs that are far on the alt-country spectrum of Mazzy Star’s catalog. Also, between songs there was bleeping, sparkly, transition music that at first sounded like an odd ringtone. Nope, it was filler music to forgo any semblance of audience interaction.
From the bedrooms of our collective adolescence and college years, the haunting strains of So Tonight That I Might See holds a special place. The most recognized expression of these memories is “Fade into You,” which, given the minor audience exodus after it was played, felt like an obligation rather than a hymn. After so many years apart, there’s a lot riding on returning to record and tour. At moments like “Into Dust” there was a perfect hush conjured by Roback’s hesitant finger picking, and an layer of questioning violin. The psychedelia woven by Sandoval’s lilting lyrics on “So Tonight That I Might See,” echoed The Doors with fuzzed guitar and organ.
The prospect of seeing Mazzy Star play live is too good to pass up, and I only really wish there could have been a more positive reception from the Boston crowd. Yes, the stage is dark, and no you cannot take any cellphone photos. And Sandoval might only utter muddled complaints about how cold the venue is, rarely glancing beyond her glowing iPad prompter.
Go, nonetheless, go.
Just be sure to bring a slow dance partner; it’s the whole reason you loved Mazzy Star in the first place.