I’d been desperate to see this band of beautiful hippies as soon as I heard their magnificent track ‘Home’ and I admit, I immediately bought into the barefooted, long haired, guitar-strumming-round-the-camp-fire universe of Edward Sharpe (actually Alexander Ebert) and his Magnetic Zeros (see, here).
The venue for the night, the Old Vic Tunnels, is one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. Bursting with an eerie, Ripper-tinged atmosphere – I’d already been exposed to the maze of cavernous tunnels near Waterloo station when I went to the premier of Banky’s film Exit Through The Gift Shop so I knew it was going to be a special night.
It didn’t disappoint! A beautiful giant moon hung in the void of one of the tunnels (below); burlesque dancers winked in the pop-up Texan Tavern, and all kinds of performers mingled with the crowd. One guy dressed as a cowboy pressed a suspicious cling-filmed brown square into my palm, that got me in trouble with the Mars police and meant I had to be searched, “is you brain organic?” he said before popping a sweet in my mouth.
Among the band’s ‘proper’ support acts were a harpist and two amazing beatboxers but the best of the bunch was Rocco DeLuca. He stood alone on the main stage – highlighted by just single light, his trademark silver Dobro glinting – and completely mesmerised the small audience with his Jeff Buckley-esque vocals that echoed around the arches.
Then the time came for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros to take to the stage. The distant echo of chanting and bells announced their arrival and soon they were pushing their way through from the back of the crowd in a long line of beards and smiles. ‘40 Day Dream’ got us off to a good start and the excitement didn’t dwindle throughout the lengthy set. In the crowd we were squeezed together to within an inch of our lives, but we bellowed along to every track from the album ‘Up From Below’ and stood trance-like for the tracks that were new. I felt as if I'd finally been let into their 1960s throwback universe and the undeniable charisma of Alexander Ebert (or at least, in his guise of alter ego Edward Sharpe) pulsed through the underground audience. At midnight exactly it spilled out onto the street and into the night…