It was somewhere in the beginning of “You’re The One-Lee” that Mark Mulcahy, lead singer of Miracle Legion, dropped the mic. He was trying to adjust an unwieldy microphone stand, and it plooped right on the floor. Quickly he scooped it up and handed the microphone stand to someone standing in the front row, mouthing the words “can you loosen this for me” in between lines of the song. Anyone who knows Miracle Legion, the few but the privileged, knows what a tender song “One-Lee” is, and yet, the show at the Ballroom in Hamden was imbued with a special light that the adoring hometown audience couldn’t help but look up in awe as he fumbled around with a newly loosened stand, perfectly adjusted, perfectly singing along. It was like an accident, but on purpose.
This being the second and last leg for the foreseeable future for the Miracle Legion reunion, the whole thing had an air about it. Talking to original guitarist, Mr. Ray just a few weeks ago, he was afraid at first no one would show up. But sold-out show after sold-out show, something was clearly in the air. More people had loved this band; one whose online catalog is mysterious at best, and one who hasn’t performed in twenty years. Instead, it was something of the Avant Nerde online writers creating a must see performance. Those that know Miracle Legion know how good they are.
For those that heeded the blogger’s call, they would not be disappointed. Miracle Legion practically flew through a greatest hits compilation. Betrayed only by thinning hair and Mulcahy’s massive grey mane, they sounded youthful and tight despite only playing the two dozen shows over the last two years. The rhythm section (consisting of David McCaffrey and Scott Boutier, borrowed from Polaris and Frank Black) provided the perfect grounding for Mark and Mr. Ray, who both sounded like they could take off at any time. Mr. Ray somehow made a Les Paul sound like a Rickenbacker, an incomprehensible feat. And Mark got real wacky, gesticulating with his whole body across the stage, off the stage; playing Boy Scout with the aforementioned microphone.
It was Mark and Mr. Ray together that made the concert something to talk about the next day. It was them that remained after the original rhythm section departed, writing and recording Me & Mr. Ray in Prince’s Paisely Park. And despite not being in a band together for twenty years, it felt as if they had spent those intermittent years jamming out in a basement, waiting for a revival of jangle-pop, power-pop, college rock, whatever you want to call it, so they could go around and tour again just so they could spread the joy of their music around to those who know and those who don’t know.
But alas, there have been talks that this is the last leg of this reunion, that this is it. The stage presence, Mark’s glowing eyes at Ray, and Ray mouthing Mark’s words in the middle of songs says that they really love being Miracle Legion, but the success was admittedly unsuspected. Mark recorded a new album, The Possum in the Driveway (April 28, 2017), that will have to be promoted. Hopefully another tour. All good things must come to an end, though. Who knows if this is one of those reunions where endless touring turns it into an nostalgia nightmare, or like the Replacements a few years ago, leave before it gets stale, and perhaps something we should be thankful for.
There is Annulment, at least—a recording of some of the dates from the past two years, showcasing what this band sounds like on stage. It preserves some of that magic of seeing them live, enough actually, but like all live recordings, doesn’t do quite enough. You want to see Mark drop the mic: those accidents that feel like they’re on purpose, endearing you to a band that you were already in love with. The whole reunion feels exactly like that kind of accident. Hopefully this isn’t the end or this is, whichever is the better option for all the guys in this incredible band. Hopefully you got to see them.
Article: Christopher Gilson