Boston MA - We set out under a perfect blue sky with just the right complement of fluffy clouds. Later the rosy- gold late afternoon sun illuminated the mountains and dense groves of leafless trees. Looking back the snow-coated trees were spectral in the setting sun. Darkness came, and the mountains and trees became silhouetted forms without detail.
The drive from Albany, NY to Boston along the Massachusetts Turnpike is an appropriate metaphor for the Cranes' music. A paradox of soaring joy and delicate tones, and despair and the violent bashing of minor chords. A storm in a teacup, or rather a tiny club in Boston, that resulted in some very bright moments despite equipment and sound problems.
Alison was fetching in a velvet evening gown and chunky boots. She wore a black tanktop over the dress, as if afraid to reveal too much of herself, more than has already been revealed in the songs. Her voice was in its usual fine form.
Alison and Jim aborted the opening "Tangled Up" halfway through after much bad timing and technical problems. Fortunately there were better times ahead. "Lilies," my personal favorite Cranes' song, was one of the standouts of the evening. The band was totally "on," smashing through the song of abandonment and what the French call manquer. Equally wonderful was "Far Away," which began with gentle piano and violins and descended into the storm-like chaos of "Adrift."
The accompanying lightshow was also a metaphor for the Cranes' music. The colors and patterns flashed and what was revealed one moment was hidden the next. Unfortunately it was also a bit distracting, as it was at times difficult to see the band.
Being unaware of the early curfew and tight schedule at Axis we unfortunately missed half of Rasputina's set, but the songs we heard were excellent.
Rasputina, "A ladies' cello society," performed an interesting set of Baroque-inspired cello rock. Past an present converge in their music, and some of their songs take American disasters as artistic inspiration. "My Little Shirtwaist Fire" describes the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire from the point of view of a girl whose best friend perished in the factory.
Rasputina exhibits an interesting choice of covers, such as "Brand New Key," Melanie's 70s hit that will no doubt be familiar to anyone old enough to remember the original. Hearing it done with cellos rather than guitars adds a new, bizarre, dimension to it.
Melora Creager's closing remark was an appropriate metaphor for the band's style. To paraphrase, she said plastic surgery was very primitive in the 1930s so when Howard Hughes had his shoulders removed so he could fit into starlets' bathrooms it was a mess.