Cloud Cult at First Avenue, 4/27/13
Photo by Erik Hess
First Avenue, Minneapolis
April 27, 2013
With Twin Cities music fans already in a terrific mood due to the best weather of the year, Cloud Cult uplifted a sold-out First Avenue even further with a 21-song, 95-minute set. The road-tested sextet (accompanied by their customary live painters Connie Minowa and Scott West) deftly went from hushed acoustic numbers to a thunderous, electronic-tinged modern sound, all while focusing on their adventurous new album, Love.
Slideshow: Cloud Cult at First Avenue
After some entrancing pre-show instrumental music set the tone in the room, the band took to the stage and added to the entrancing atmosphere with the somber, string-laden instrumental intro "All the Things We Couldn't See" as the backdrop dramatically filled with stars. The song eventually built to a raucous finish that flowed smoothly into the start of a lively rendition of "Chain Reaction," which featured the golden brass tones of Shawn Neary's trombone and Sarah Perbix's french horn. "Hello, Minneapolis! We're Cloud Cult," exclaimed frontman Craig Minowa after the ovation died down.
Photos by Erik Hess
The band has grown more adventurous and bold with their live sound and arrangements over the years, which was evident on the dynamic, electronic pulse layered through "Running with the Wolves," as each musician provided some added texture to the anthemic song, which sounded enormous on First Ave's sound system. "Thank you, kind people," Minowa then declared warmly. "There's nothing like coming home, I tell you. It's been far too long since we've been here. There's some really good energy in the room tonight."
But instead of building on the swelling enthusiasm coursing through the club, Craig brought out an acoustic guitar and slowed things down with a touching, tender version of "Meet Me Where You're Going," which he wrote for the band's sound tech/tour manager Jeff Johnson's wedding. The turbulent pacing of the show, with loud, bombastic numbers butting up abrasively against delicate acoustic songs, was the only troublesome aspect of an otherwise smooth performance, something that Craig addressed later in the show: "All Cloud Cult albums are a bit schizophrenic, so we're going to change the pace up during our shows just like our records."
But that proved to be just a minor issue as the show wore on, with each emphatic number furthering the deep connection the band members have with their fans. After a boisterous, soaring take on "Sleepwalker," Minowa shared even more of himself and his story with the audience. "This is our first tour with our two kids, who are one and three. And the three-year-old has been resilient while potty-training in public restrooms throughout the tour. And, after his first day back at preschool, he caught the stomach flu. He's fine now, he's just been through a lot. This is a song written for him." And with that, the band eased into a touching rendition of "You Were Born," guided elegantly along by Shannon Frid-Rubin's violin and Daniel Zamzow's cello.