Photos Copyright ©Mike Dare 2002
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April 24th, 2002 Wednesday
Washington, DC - The Black Cat

To Be
Shining Road
Future Song
Flute Song
Pale Blue Sky

Far Away

Review by Mike Dare

Washington DC - Opening night of the first US Cranes tour in over 5 yrs. You think I was excited? You bet. Though at the same time, a bit nervous too that maybe nobody would show up. 5 yrs is a long time to wait for band to return. But I was soon rest assured after doors opened and about 200 or so soon filled the floor. Talked to some folks before the show started, and the consensus I gathered was about 50% of the people didn't know much about the Cranes at all - which I actually think is pretty cool. Hopefully they made some new fans.

Things got started pretty late. At 10:30, the opening band Phaser hit the stage. If you're a fan of Spiritualized, then I'd highly recommend. Long songs that begin with slow soft melodies but eventually work up to a sonic furry. Very fun band to watch play. Check em out when you get a chance.

In all honesty, this wasn't the best Cranes gig I've seen. Though after getting the full story, I can see why it wasn't. First, the day didn't begin too well when they got to the Black Cat that afternoon, only to find the doors locked and nobody inside, thus everybody had to wait outside the club with all their gear in the van for 4 hrs. Also, the flight in from England apparently wasn't too kind to their luggage either. Jim had some guitar equipment completely destroyed, which called for some last minute changes in the setup, and there were 2 other guitars that were temporarily "lost" (don't ask). But wait, it gets even better - their new sound engineer Stuart had gotten food poisoning the night before, and he was deathly ill by time the gig started.

But barring all that, the show must go on. I intentionally kept myself from knowing any of the setlist before hand because I wanted to "go in fresh". Seemed to have worked, because I was pleasantly surprised to seem the play "Shining Road", "Pale Blue Sky", and most of all "Loved" (which has never been played on any previous tour). Before going into "Loved", somebody in the audience shouted out "You got a new guy in the band?", which prompted Ali to do a full introduction of every band member (something else I don't think I've ever seen them do before). But anyways - the "new guy" is Ben. He is the "5th Crane", i.e. - Paul's old job from the Pop4 tour for those of you who were around back then. In other words - the whipping boy, so everybody be nice to him if you see him at a gig.

All of the Future Songs sounded better than the album versions. Jon Callender's drumming really adds a new dimension to the songs. "Fragile" for instance really soars when the live drums kick in. At first I didn't think this would be a very good song to see live, but now I think it's the best of the FS batch. Though, I'm still waiting for them to bust out the Heavenly Trousers. Other highlights of the night were the usual crowd pleasers "Jewel", "Far Away/Adrift", and "To Be". The rattler part of "To Be" as always is still a show stopper.

So, overall it really was a solid gig. You would only know that tonight wasn't their best performance if you had seen them a few times before. I was there with a friend who had never seen them before, but she still thought it was a good show nonetheless (and she's the type that would have no problem telling me that it sucked).

Anyways, I'm sure the shows will only get better as the tour progresses, so get out there if you can when they pass near your town. Buy some t-shirts too - the new Submarine shirts are really cool, and right now they're not for sale on the web, so the only way to get one is to show up at the gig. And not to get anybody too excited, but word is the Cranes have rehearsed a new live version of September for this tour (with drums!?). Whether or not we'll get to see it may depend on how well the particular gig goes. So get out there everybody, and make some noise!

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