Mirah and Spectratone International at Swedish American

If you haven’t been to the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, you’re really missing out on something bizarre. I’ve been there a few times — it’s only a couple blocks from where we live — and it delights in its oddity each time. It’s like a cross between an old church and some sort of old nordic community center, replete with fachwerk, tall pointy pre-vatican-looking chairs, and dusty Market-Street-fronting windows up front, with a claustrophobic, usually cold music space at the back. (And yes, I’m babbling a bit because I’m flying on an airplane tomorrow and past blog posts, if tagged appropriately, attest to what happens to me when that happens.)

So it was the perfect place for the absolutely divine and bizarre Mirah — and Spectratone International — show this last Monday, September 8, revolving around Mirah’s latest Share This Space — revelations surrounding insects.

I admit, at first I did not think I was going to make it through the whole thing. The animation projected onto the circular screen directly above the band was technically awesome, but making me queasy. Various insects including dung beatles and glow worms — all fabricated — appeared to be burrowing into stocking-clad skin, while other slimy concoctions were sliding along the floor and some were breathing stickily in and out. Mirah’s vocal command and ethereal insect-related lyrics were fighting for my command — but I was losing track and I did want to vomit just a little bit. So that was terribly effective.

Let me say while I am at it that the accompanying four-piece Spectratone International was outstanding. The band suited Mirah incredibly well and blended together beautifully, nobody particularly outshining another but complimenting the vocals — and the insect presentation.

A fellow called Kane played an incredible instrument called the oud – a lovely guitar. Lori played just about the hottest cello I’ve ever seen. Kyle on accordion was great. And Jane Hall on percussion was utterly captivating, seeming to perform magic with her hands.

And I can say that by the end, especially with the revolving blue Q-Tip fuzzling (this was I believe a reference to a butterfly), I was utterly spellbound. OK — I guess I should finish with the superlatives.

Let me just close with this: The extra goodies that Mirah and the band threw in at the end neatly sealed the deal, and the set has been resounding through my head ever since. One standout was Windmills of Your Mind — and when Mirah was singing about the hands, I swear she could have been singing about the percussionist blending into her voice from across the stage. Nice chemistry, gals!