March 22, 1997
The Metro, Chicago IL

Review and photos by Mike Dare. Check out the setlist and this interview by Jennifer Gutowski.

Chicago, IL - The 11th stop and exact mid point of the tour. The Cranes are definitely in mid-season form. I really can do no justice to this show by writing up a review. All I can say is..."It was fucking awesome!!" You just had to have been there to really understand what I mean. I think a lot of it has to do with the early curtain call. The Cranes hit the stage at 9:00 pm. Now that's more like it. This way both the band and the crowd will have more energy for the night. None of this crap like in Atlanta where they didn't go on until after midnight.

A very large crowd on hand tonight. Over 600 tickets were sold before the doors even opened. Quite a few hardcore Cranes fans present for the gig. You could tell by not just how enthusiastic everybody was to see the band, but also by the number of song titles people were shouting out as requests. To everybody's delight, the Cranes opened their set with 3 straight "oldies"; 'Everywhere', 'Reverie', and 'Jewel'. I still can't get over how good 'Reverie' sounds. Playing that song second in the set is just perfect.

A really cool setlist tonight. If you liked tonight's set, you need to thank Mark. It was 99% his creation. He originally wanted to play "Clear" as the 5th song, but Ali decided to replace it with "E.G. Shining". Good choice. Definitely one of the best songs of the show. You could feel the song's heavy bassline in your chest. I was not expecting to hear this song, so it blew me away the second they went into it. But they actually screwed up slightly. Being "the new drummer", Manu forgot to come in at one point to start the chorus, so the rest of the band had to hold the verse for 1 more measure. Not a big deal, though. You wouldn't have noticed the mistake unless you (A) were either very familiar with the song or (B) could see the smirk on Ali's face. And just as a side note for those who haven't heard "E.G. Shining"...It's on the "Espero" ep. Go out and buy it!! It's classic Cranes for you.

Manu Another classic that night that everybody enjoyed was "Sixth of May". Manu did an excellent job with this one. He added some style to the song by putting in a little marching roll to the drum beat. Tonight was definitely Manu's night. Probably his best gig of the tour yet. Maybe it was those holographic glasses he was sporting all night (don't ask me how the hell he could play drums with those things on). You could tell he was really into it when he came back out for the encore. With the glasses still on and his arms stretched out wide, he strutted up to the center mic and said in his French accent, "We fucking love this place!!" He sure was feeling like a real rock star, but he really got the crowd fired up. Oh yeah, and the ankle also seemed fine.

Even Jim had to feel a little jealous of all Manu's glory. After the show he mentioned, "I really miss playing the drums on 'Sixth of May' and 'Starblood'," and jokingly went on to say, "We should arrange that when we play those songs, that I get to be the one to play the drums." Yeah right, Jim. Try telling that one to Manu.

Mark also enjoyed playing "Sixth of May". As he put it, "That's one of my favorites. I get to play my 'Rock God' guitar solo at the end of the song." So for now on, everybody remember to hail Mark at the end of 'Sixth of May'. Oh yeah, and another way to get in good with Mark...he collects snowdomes, so everybody bring him one at the shows.

As for Ali's opinions of tonight's gig. Well, you didn't really have to ask her about it. Her ear-to-ear grin said it all. All she had to say was, "It was fun." Gee, that's enlightening, Ali. But you could definitely tell that she was really pleased with the performance. Or maybe she was just excited because she knew she would soon be flying to Austin in peace the next day while the rest of her bandmates and tour crew have to suffer through a 3 day hellish bus ride leaving in just a few hours.

Anyways, as for the show...One of the best Cranes shows on this tour. Let's hope they can keep up their spirits. They only have 2 more weeks left on the US tour, but then they head home where they have at least 6 more weeks of touring in Europe. And just a little advice to everybody who'll still be catching the tour...A good sign that the Cranes really liked you is if they come back and play "Starblood" for the encore. It seems to be their bonus song. So if you want to hear "Starblood", remember to make LOTS of noise at the show.

And once again, it's time to wrap up this review with a random piece of information...For those of you who were shocked to hear Ali use the "f" word in "Tangled Up"...You wanna know the original album title she had planned before coming up with "Population 4"?......."Perfect Fucked Up World".......I kid you not.

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