Live music continues to make its slow return to NYC, including at City Winery, which started hosting shows again at its new Pier 57 location on April 2, when New York venues were given the okay to open, with restrictions. On Friday (4/16), The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt played two sets there. He was accompanied on cello by longtime collaborator and Magnetic Fields member Sam Davol, and for those who couldn't attend in person, the second performance was livestreamed.
Before Merritt and Davol hit the stage, City Winery founder and CEO Michael Dorf welcomed the audience to the reduced-capacity venue, jokingly suggesting that they should not get so comfortable with the socially-distanced seating once the pandemic fully subsides and restrictions are lifted. He also talked about how thrilled he was to see music returning to New York City. This evening was my first visit to the new location, and it is spacious and beautiful. The western wall of the main room has floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a spectacular view of the Hudson River (but which is also obscured by a curtain during concerts). Most attendees were seated at tables on the main floor, with a smaller bunch up in the second floor balcony. With patrons masked, and tables well-spaced out, I felt quite comfortable as far as COVID safety goes, and I found the sound well-mixed and sight lines good no matter where I stood along the perimeter of the space.