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'A Night Like This'
July 27th, 2002 Saturday
Review by Mike Dare
London UK - Hyde Park. There was no doubt in anybody's mind that this was going to be an amazing evening. Cranes first major break through was in the early 90s when they were the support act for The Cure's Wish Tour. Since then, there have been many fans longing to see them share the same stage once again. So here we are, 10 years later, back in the home country of both bands for what is quite possibly the biggest concert of the year in London. 'A Night Like This' featuring The Cure, Cranes, Mogwai, and Joseph Arthur.
Great weather for today's event - bright and sunny with a nice breeze and a beautiful skyline over the park. For those not familiar with Hyde Park, it's similar to Central Park in NYC, but only in London right in the heart of the city. To give you an idea how big it is, the concert area probably takes up about 5% of the entire land of the park, if not less. I don't know the exact figures, but I'm guessing that the concert area can hold about 30,000 people. The attendance for the tonight (guessing once again) maybe 20,000. Prior to tonight's show, the last gig the Cranes played was over 2 months ago in Orlando FL at a club that holds only 200 people. Thus you can expect there were a few pre-show jitters from some band members, but nothing major.
Doors opened at 4:00 pm, and the field down in front of the stage soon filled quickly. These were primarily the hardcore Cranes/Cure fans up front. How hardcore you may ask? Well, I met 2 fans in the front row who came all the way from New York just to see the show this weekend. They camped out at the park entrance since 9am that morning to get their well deserved spot up front. I also know of fans that came all the way from Florida, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Lebanon, and Argentina. Oh yes, this was going to be a good show.
Things got started right on time at 4:40 pm with Joseph Arthur. You gotta hand it to a guy that has the guts to open such a large event just by himself and his acoustic guitar (no back up band). Just for comparison - he reminded me a lot of Richard Ashcroft (ex-Verve frontman). Very captivating slower paced songs, with simple chord progression, and a strong voice. A great performance to lightly warm everybody up for the all out rock'n'roll we were in store for the rest of the evening.
Just 10 minutes after Mr. Arthur's set, Cranes stepped on stage at 5:20 and got a warm opening reception from the masses down front. You could tell they were happy to be playing in front of such a large audience again - a lot of smiles from Alison Shaw throughout the set.
After the opening song 'Cloudless', a few fireworks were launched above the stage to everybody's surprise. Since the band couldn't see the fireworks from where they were on stage, they were a little startled at first, as they had no idea what was going on. I was just thinking "Wow, they must really like the Cranes here. They're launching fireworks to welcome them on stage. Cool!!"
I never caught the Wish tour, so for me this was the first time seeing the Cranes at a large event. I still prefer the small intimate club gigs over big open air concerts, but nonetheless it was very cool to see them up on the big stage. The sound was great too. Very full, very clean. Kudos to Cranes sound engineer Stu for another exceptional job.
An abbreviated set today, since the Cranes were only given 45 minutes to play. But it was a good mix of old and new songs. Since many Cure fans may have remembered the Cranes from the Wish tour, a lot of songs were chosen from the 1993 album Forever (5 out of 11 to be precise). Seemed to be a good idea too, judging by the crowd's reaction to the opening notes on the older tunes.
One of the best things of the show were the giant video monitors on both sides of the stage. There was a professional camera crew all around the stage, and they did a fine job filming the Cranes set. I wondered if the crew was already familiar with the Cranes, because the videography matched the songs very well. 'Fragile' looked great up on those monitors. The wind was blowing through Ali's hair as the cameras faded in and out between her and Jim's guitar riffs. It matched the flow of the song perfectly. 'To Be' was also quite a sight. During the song's rattling climax, the cameras were swirling around Jon Callender, and quickly cutting angles, as he was going nuts on the drums. If there were ever a video made for 'To Be', that right there is exactly how it should be filmed.
The 45 minute set seemed to go by rather quickly. Too bad because the crowd up front was really getting into it after the furious finish of 'Adrift'. But you could tell the Cranes were happy with their performance as they walked off the stage, with Jim Shaw giving a victorious wave to the roar of the crowd as a final send off. Now all they had ahead of them was an evening to just relax, hang out with friends and family, and watch 2 more great bands take the stage. No complaints there.
The after-show party was packed with a few hundred people, with a few noteworthy names in attendance - singer/songwriter Michael J. Sheehy and French producer Dimitri Tikovoi (both of whom have future releases later this year with collaborations with Alison Shaw). Also in attendance - lead singer of Republica (Saffron)...and ex-Cranes member Matt Cope. Robert Smith, swamped with a mob of guests to entertain the entire night, found some time to stop by the Cranes dressing room and say hello to everybody. He shared some kind words with Jim and Ali on how he really enjoyed the sound of their new songs from the 'Future Songs' album and congratulated them on their recent success. He also gladly accepted a cd from Ben and Jon of their other band Carmen Rosa. A very nice gesture on his behalf, and great way to end an incredible evening.
And lastly - for anybody who may have missed the Cranes/Cure reunion who wanted to attend…I know it's short notice, but you still have one more chance this summer, as the Cranes have just been added to the Benicassim Festival in Spain this Friday (August 2nd). Could be your last chance to catch them together, so be there if you can!
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