Atlanta, GA - Ok, this is gonna be a really informal review. I just got back from a 10 hr drive from Atlanta and am utterly exhausted. But the journey was definitely worth it.
Opening night of the US tour. The Masquerade in Atlanta, GA. A place that I'm not too fond of anymore. The club itself is pretty cool, but it sure isn't located in the best part of town. In just the 20 yds that I had to walk from the parking lot to the club's doors, I had 2 separate run-ins with some shady characters. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one that night. And I don't know what's up with that place, but the club didn't schedule the Cranes to hit the stage until midnight, which would make that the 20th hour that I was up that day.
As for the opening acts, they really didn't do much for me. The first act was a local band called Orbit (no not Orbital, not the Orb, but Orbit). They were your typical grunge rock trio. You would have thought they were Nirvana if you didn't look closely. I didn't find them too exciting, however, I did think it was interesting to hear them close their set with a cover of Echo and the Bunnymen's "Do It Clean". The regular supporting act for the tour, Rasuptina, hit the stage at 11:00. Pretty strange stuff there. A gothic female cello trio plus a drummer. I really didn't pay too much attention to their set, but the crowd did seem to like them a lot.
And then at 12pm sharp, it was the moment we had all been waiting for. I didn't care how tired I was anymore. All that went out the window when the lights went down and the anticipation for the Cranes arrival began to mount. Also on a side note, I noticed that the Cranes seemed to have a lot of new equipment. No more beat up guitars being held together with duck tape, like they had last tour.
And now it was showtime. It was a very casual opening to the concert, but I really liked the way they did it. There was no intro music, no fancy lighting, or anything of the sort. Simply Jim and Ali walked on stage by themselves to a courteous applause from the crowd. Jim picked up the 6 string Ovation, Ali stood at the mic stand, and they went straight into "Tangled Up". Just the 2 of them, and it sounded perfect. Alison's voice was better than it's ever been.
After that, Mark and Manu entered the scene, Ali picked up the bass, and they went straight into "Reverie",which imho was THE best song that they played that night. I mean, they absolutely blew the roof off the place when the song kicks into that thrashing chorus. Already, "Reverie" is my favorite song off of Loved, but last night they put that studio version to shame with Mark cranking up the distortion and Manu throwing little quarks on the drums in between chord changes.
The rest of the evening was dominated mostly by Population Four songs. Believe me, if you're not already totally into this album, you will be after you catch this tour. All the Pop 4 songs sounded excellent live, especially "Can't Get Free" and "To Be". The crowd even gave a round of applause in the middle of "To Be" after that really racing dreamy part.
Another highlight of the show was definitely "Lilies". The pace of the songs seemed faster than the studio version and Alison sang it with a really tongue-in-cheek personality to it. Her facial expressions killed me.
Despite, my satisfaction with the Cranes performance that evening, the band members had quite a different outlook of the show. As Manu said, "It sounded like crap. I should have drank more before the gig." Mark also stated that he didn't like the way the new songs sounded and that they would probably be making some changes in the set list. The Cranes regular soundboard operator wasn't present for the gig, and the tour manager took over the responsibility instead. Maybe that was the problem. However, their bad reviews of themselves could just be modesty. I thought all the new songs sounded awesome.
And now to wrap up this review with a very interesting piece of information...
The second most interesting event of the night was "What was that song that they played last?" It was a really fast song with this stop and go chorus, almost like a hardcore song. I actually thought it was just a souped up version of "Joy Lies Within", but it wasn't that. The reason that's only the "second" most interesting event is because the most interesting event of the evening was the answer to that question. I asked Mark after the show about that, here's how the conversation went...
MD: What was the last song that you played tonight?
Mark: The last song we played..."Lemon Tree".
MD: What? That wasn't "Lemon Tree".
Mark: Well, what do you think "Lemon Tree" sounds like?
MD: Uhhh, like it does on the album?
Mark: Here's the story...That extra track on the album that's labeled as "Lemon Tree" is NOT "Lemon Tree". The bloody record company put the wrong track on the album. The song on the album is actually called "Wild Yellow Bloom". The song that you heard us play tonight is the real "Lemon Tree".