The Jayhawks at First Avenue, 1/29/11 and 1/30/11

Categories: Last Night
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Photos by Steve Cohen
The Jayhawks
January 29 and 30, 2011
First Avenue, Minneapolis


After easing into their set on Saturday night, the Jayhawks were off and running for a two-night stand that found them finishing with a double-encore on Sunday evening and looking hesitant to leave the stage that they've gotten so apt at dominating these past two years.

The band was wrapping up their first real "tour" as a reunited ensemble, which took them to Toronto, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago before returning them home to First Ave. While their two-night stands in other cities gave the band an opportunity to revisit their seminal albums, Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, from start to finish, their dual performances in their hometown were more mixed bags, leaning heavily on Green Grass but incorporating songs from both albums into a lengthy set list that was repeated almost song-for-song both nights.

While it would have been nice to hear a few of their lesser-played songs off of Hollywood Town Hall ("Crowded in the Wings" and "Take Me With You When You Go," in particular), there was little else to complain about at these shows. Avid fans filled the Mainroom each night to sing along and sway to the music, and Mark Olson in particular seemed to revel in the persistent devotion of his supporters, taking time between songs to express gratitude for his hometown.

"I originally wanted us to be called the Twin Town Ramblers," he joked on the second night. "I'm glad someone made us go with the Jayhawks."

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Photos by Steve Cohen
Though many of the songs at the beginning of Saturday night's set sounded note-perfect, the band started out a little stiff, looking somewhat nervous in front of the sold-out crowd. But by the time they hit "Two Hearts," the hard edges started to soften away and the band fell into a romantic shuffle that carried them through "Settled Down Like Rain," "Nevada, California," and new song "She Walks in So Many Ways" for one of the most cathartic points of their two performances.

Sunday night seemed more celebratory, with the band bursting out of the gates with great momentum on "Wichita" and riding a more energetic and upbeat wave, with "Sister Cry," "Darling Today," and "I'd Run Away" standing out as definite highlights.

The band played the same three new songs each night -- "She Walks," along with the dark and brooding "Black Eyed Susan" and the classic-sounding "Gilder Annie" -- and sprinkled in a few B-sides and old songs, giving even the most seasoned fans a few treats in the midst of their more well-known hits.



By the end of their regular set on Sunday night, it was clear that the crowd wasn't about to let them go softly into that dark night, so the group came back to play four songs followed by another two more. During "Lights," their final song of the evening (and their tour), the band stretched out Victoria Williams' song into a bluesy, funky jam, with Louris taking an extended electric guitar solo reminiscent of his vigorous solo performance at the First Ave 40th bash last month and staying behind as his bandmates filed off stage for the last time, resting his guitar against an amp and smiling approvingly as it squealed and roared over the crowd's applause.

While last summer's three-night run at First Avenue was a celebratory party thrown by a band that had died and come back to life, last weekend's shows were more about sating their fans' thirst for nostalgia and preparing them for what is yet to come. The release of their new album this summer should be quite thrilling indeed.

Reporter's bias: The Jayhawks are easily one of my favorite Twin Cities bands.
The crowd: Jayhawks veterans and longtime fans, including my mom, who spent Sunday night's show frantically taking photos of the band with her point-and-shoot and grinning ear to ear.
Overheard in the crowd: "He's so dreamy! Was he always this dreamy?" -- at least five women around me who swooned every time Mark Olson looked out into the crowd and smiled.
Random notebook dump: I'd be remiss to overlook Rogue Valley, who were a perfectly suited opener for the band both nights. They performed songs off all three of the full-length albums released last year, and the crowd really seemed to respond to the clapping processional of "Red River of the North."

Set List, Saturday 1/29/11
Wichita
Pray For Me
Real Light
Red's Song
Nothing Left to Borrow
Tomorrow the Green Grass
Two Hearts
Settled Down Like Rain
Nevada, California
She Walks in So Many Ways *
Warm River
Blue
I'd Run Away
There's No Place for People Like Him
Miss Williams' Guitar
Black Eyed Susan *
Bad Time
People in This Place on Every Side
Waiting for the Sun
Ten Little Kids

Encore:
Tampa to Tulsa
Gilder Annie *
Clouds

(5 from Hollywood Town Hall + 1 b-side, 10 from Tomorrow the Green Grass + 1 b-side, 1 from Bunkhouse, 3 new)


Set List, Sunday 1/30/11
Wichita
Sister Cry
Real Light
Red's Song
Nothing Left to Borrow
Tomorrow the Green Grass
Two Hearts
Two Angels
Settled Down Like Rain
She Walks in So Many Ways *
Blue
I'd Run Away
Darling Today
Miss Williams' Guitar
Black Eyed Susan *
Bad Time
People in This Place on Every Side
Waiting for the Sun
Ten Little Kids

Encore:
Tampa to Tulsa
Clouds
Gilder Annie *
Up Above My Head

Second encore:
Over My Shoulder
Lights



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