January 20, 2005
Magnet Live in Los Angeles
Magnet is the nom-de-guitar of Even Johansen, of Norway. Described as a Troubadour in his bio, which also includes the information that his name Magnet comes from a teenage visit to a half-Chinese, half-Indian medicine man, who gave him a tattoo of a magnet, colored with “special” ink. After passing out, young Even woke up completely cured. In any case, I was pretty sure Magnet the Troubadour would do well inside the cozy confines of LA's famed Troubadour club, as the warm up act for Phoenix.
Sometimes opening acts at the Troubadour are victims of the LA "talking about nothing interesting while the band is playing syndrome" but this wasn't the case for most of the Magnet show. Either the crowd was hypnotized by the raw power a single vocalist with an accoustic and lapsteel guitar, or they were just big Magnet fans.
In any case, Magnet opened up with his trademark ethereal folk music, which has a haunted vibe, as if weighed down by spiritual demands too difficult to explain in any other language then music. At first Magnet's voice is shocking in its textured beauty... more then one person in the front row was gazing at Even's face as if he were the second coming-- perhaps not of Jesus Christ, but of his Troubadour equiv.
The set was fairly short, and in some ways fairly low-key, but the reaction to each song was amazing. First you'd have the obvious fans, hanging on every word, visibily and audibly pleased at the beginning of the track... then you'd have the newcomer, who would pay attention but somewhere in the middle of a gorgeous melody or surprising musical moment would try to get a better view, stop talking, sway with the music, etc. You could see fans being made... One song which perfectly captured the mellow yet surrealistic vibe of the night was the title track to the new Magnet release 'On Your Side'. As he repeated the chorus near the end, you could have heard a pin drop in the main room of the venue...
Magnet is an exciting new artist and from what I saw, he made a lot of new fans that night. It seems likely that the next time he comes to LA, he'll be headlining. If you're reading this in a city where Magnet is coming, I urge you to check it out, regardless of what kind of music you're into, because he puts on a deceptively simple show which has the power to lull you into a higher plane of low-intensity musical ecstasy.
Review by S. Soiree