Alison Krauss & Union Station at the Orpheum, 9/13/2011

Categories: Last Night
alisonkrauss1.jpg
Photos by Nick Wosika
Alison Krauss and Union Station
September 13, 2011
Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis

To spend the evening watching Alison Krauss and Union Station perform is a humbling experience.  There are some shows where the artist may seem accessible and would love to hang out afterwards, and not to say that Alison does not seem approachable, but to attend her concert is a bit like watching a movie with a wonderful production.

It is rare for artists these days to not have an opening act, but Alison needs no warm-up, jumping in and amazing the crowd with a track off her newest album Paper Airplane. The harmonies of Union Station and Alison are of those that have played together for years, much like a family, so it didn't surprise me too much when she introduced her band and included how many years she'd played with each one (20+ with the majority of them).

I knew I was in for a night of music, but I didn't realize I was also going to be treated to a night of stand-up comedy.  Stating, "We are glad to be back," Alison continues, "We had a day off yesterday, so we went to that steak place -- what's it called?  Murray's.  'Home of the The Silver Butterknife Steak.'  Barry (bassist) has a rule that if something is the home of something, that's what you order.  What did you think of the steak, Barry?  Did you need a silver butter-knife?"

"I just looked at it and it fell apart," replied Barry, to the delight of the audience. 

Alison has a voice that is as clear as a bell tone, evident in "Ghost in This House" and one of her first hits, "Baby, Now That I Found You."  I've often wondered about how artists pen songs; if after they are finished they just know that a certain number is going to be a hit.  Such is the case of "Every Time You Say Goodbye" where each line flows into the next, lead by Alison's soft soprano.

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Photos by Nick Wosika
Introduced as one of the best musicians in any genre of music, Jerry Douglas shared how Alison sings the band to sleep every night and how he's known Alison since she was fourteen years old -- which was three years ago.  Douglas proceeded to entertain with a melancholy number that is reminiscent of sounds from Appalachia on the dobro.  Bluegrass is music that often tugs at the heartstrings; Alison even says that, "We have a real love for sad songs."  Which is true, since I could see about 90% of the songs from last night's list being performed at a funeral. 

Although the songs with Alison singing lead were the highlights of the show, you cannot discredit her band, Union Station.  Dan Tyminski, who filled in for George Clooney's vocals in O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s "Man of Constant Sorrow," shined when he took the lead. I've always loved the sound of the banjo, and Ron Block is one of the most talented banjo players in country music. 

As bare-bones as bluegrass already is, Alison and her band came back with even less instrumentation for their encore, which included her biggest hit "When You Say Nothing At All" and "Whiskey Lullaby," a duet which was recorded with country artist Brad Paisley that tells of heartache and, what else, whiskey.  My personal favorite was, again from the Coen Brothers' O Brother, "Down to the River to Pray," a piece that focuses on Alison's angelic voice.

When I said tonight's show unfolded like a movie, I was not exaggerating. 
Each instrument played a part and each song was deliberate in the weaving of the story.



Critic's bias: As a teen -- which was three years ago *cough, cough*, amongst my grunge music stage, I fell in love with Alison's music and it has held the test of time.  Musicians should strive to make music that has longevity, like Krauss, rather than what is trending.
The crowd: Mostly middle aged to older couples.
Overheard in the crowd: "They need to finish this show so people can get home to sleep."
Random notebook dump: I wonder how much dust settled on the drum kit which sat empty save 4 or 5 songs.
For more photos: See our full slideshow by Nick Wosika.

Setlist:

Paper Airplane
Dust Bowl Children
Instrumental
Daylight
Sinking Stone
Let Me Touch You For Awhile
Ghost in this House
Baby, Now That I've Found You
Rain Please Go Away
Sawing on the Strings
Wild Bill Jones
Every Time You Say Goodbye
Jerry Douglas Instrumental
Pastures of Plenty
The Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn
Dimming of the Day
Lie Awake
*******Song I Couldn't Figure Out**************
Stay
Bonita & Bill Butler
Miles To Go
Man of Constant Sorrow
Any Old Time
Oh, Atlanta

Encore

When You Say Nothing At All
Whiskey Lullaby
Down to the River to Pray
Your Long Journey
There is a Reason



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