‘How strange it is to be anything at all’

In a cap and heavy beard, Jeff Mangum could have been anyone – until he started singing. Last night I saw Neutral Milk Hotel at the Roundhouse with Guy, Michael and Becky and Andy of Grande Valise. Hearing Mangum open and close the show alone with ‘Two Headed Boy’ parts 1 and 2 was almost a religious experience. Talk about THE SHIVERS. Between that it was a bloody good gig. Jeremy Barnes carpet-bombed the drums, breaking stick after stick. Fuzzy guitars, soaring brass and a quixotic saw took us joyfully through On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. ‘There’s something happening in my chest. I’m going to open it up because I want to share it with you,’ said Mangum halfway through. Namaste, Jeff.