"Engine" (Live in Pittsburgh; updated with video live in Columbus)

Video: Jeff Mangum and Julian Koster: "Engine" (Live in Pittsburgh; updated with video live in Columbus)

Photo by Derrick Smith

"Maybe next time we could get a Neutral Milk Hotel tune?" This thought had to have run through the heads of a few NMH fans when last weekend we posted video of Jeff Mangum joining his large cast of E6 friends for some songs at the Knitting Factory. Not that the show in New York didn't look like a total blast, and not that it wasn't special having him onstage at all, and not that the Olivia Tremor Control and Elf Power don't have some great songs of their own. But still... Neutral Milk Hotel. It was something to wish for, given how rare Mangum's appearances have been, and how incredible his songs can be.

Well, it's happened: Last night in Pittsburgh, Mangum again joined his mates on the "Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour", and at one point he apparently took to the floor to play the "Holland, 1945" B-side "Engine" with Julian Koster on singing saw. The video we have at this point requires some imagination. It looks like it was almost pitch black in the venue, and only a few frames in several minutes show anyone at all (these when cameras would flash). And it sounds as though a chunk of the crowd was talking through the entire performance, and their voices almost drown out Mangum's. Still, that it was documented at all is something, and inside the din there is that voice. Big thanks Derrick Smith for the tip and the photo.

Update: Derrick also sent us some video that he shot of "Engine" which, while not quite complete, has better sound. Also, it was shot from another angle that allows you to see Mangum's face when those flashes go off. It's below the YouTube-- thanks again Derrick!

Update No. 2: Third time's a charm. This would seem to be the definitive "Engine" from the Pittsburgh show.

Update No. 3: They played the song the next night in Columbus, and the audio is better still

"Engine" live in Pittsburgh

"Engine" live in Columbus

Posted by Mark Richardson on Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 6:10pm