Check out the setlist and Roger's pictures.
Detroit, MI - It was a particularly warm afternoon, which made my 3+ hour drive to Detroit fairly pleasant. This all changed when I found myself lost in a particularly bad area outside downtown Detroit. Of course some of the directions I had for St. Andrews included, "an area which looks like a former bomb site". Eventually I found the bomb site I was looking for, and was fortunate to have an 'escort' waiting outside my car window the minute I parked my car asking for money. Welcome To Detroit, Indeed.
I made my way from g-money and a few more of his friends (I presume) and found the steps leading into St. Andrews Hall. As I entered the venue, I heard "Jewel" playing in the background. It was nowhere even close to 9pm so there was a brief moment where I hoped it was merely the house music. Knowing very well this was not the case, I made my way up to the balcony from which point the stage had my full attention.
Cranes had opened the show with 3 older numbers: Everywhere, Reverie & Jewel. This lead into a spotlight of the POPULATION 4 material from which six of the next seven songs originated. "To Be" started things off with its atmospheric qualities. The lights were kept to a minimum and there was a dreamlike vibe going on throughout the hall. Seemingly out of nowhere Alison threw on a bass and said "Here's an old one you might know ... E.G. Shining". I was psyched, this being one of my favorite tracks and they didn't play it the previous night in Cleveland. Of course, they did not disappoint.
With Mark back on bass the band cruised back into the Pop4 material with "Breeze". Alison was quite a bit more animated while singing this track, bopping along in the shiny black dress she wore on this evening. This was followed by "Let Go" and "On Top Of The World", 2 tracks which had a bit more depth than their recorded counterparts. For "Brazil" Jim, sporting a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds t-shirt, joined Mark and Ali on the right side of the stage on bass, while Mark moved to piano and Ali played her acoustic. Of course this song wouldn't have been complete without the added help on guitar by Paul Smith. "Angel Bell" followed, giving Jim the chance to scrape along on his guitar live, which must be undoubtedly joyful after watching Mark unload night after night from behind his kit over the years. (then again, Jim used to hit his drums so hard during Starblood, I could almost feel my ears bleed, powerful stuff there).
One aspect of the current live Cranes shows that they should be commended for is the 'almost' complete lack of pre-programmed tapes. I know some people thought the Loved shows weren't "live" enough but the songs from the new album really lend themselves to a better live interpretation without machines.
That being said, the next few songs had some familiar keyed up parts but I doubt you would be able to find a soul in the house that had any problem with it. "Sixth Of May" was followed by the best vocal performance I have ever heard of "Far Away" and the main set of the evening was concluded with Mark going ballistic on an undeserving guitar during "Adrift".
After a few minutes Jim and Alison came back out and started an acoustic performance of "Tangled Up". This really surprised me since they used this song to open the show the previous night and I was sure I had missed it. Quite a beautiful number live, but that was just the beginning. With Manu back out and Mark on piano, a nice rendering of "Adoration" followed. Alison then leaned into the mic with "guess what, this one's called Lilies! which was an explosive fireball of an ending with Manu's feverish drumming and Mark unleashing a headbanging speed pogo monster from under those blonde dreads. A very nice ending to the show.
I was all geared up for a 'starblood' finale which would have been the 'perfect' ending but as I found out later, St Andrews Hall turns into a dance club on Friday nights and bands have to be done and off the stage by 9:30pm. I'm just happy to have arrived when I did. On the last tour, the Detroit show started around midnight, and I was expecting a much later start than 8:15pm on this occasion.
I was fortunate to speak with the band after the show and Alison told me that I only missed Everywhere and Reverie (a very electric version on this tour). Jim said that he was really happy with the set list changes, especially moving "Tangled Up" from the opening to the encore and they would keep the same set the next night in Chicago.
I could only laugh as I saw the metal detectors and 'club kids' being frisked on their way in as I left the old school turned multi-dance club.
...and the next day it was on to Chicago...