Tour Diary – St Cloud, MN (March 20, 2010)

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

The band came through St. Cloud back in 2003 and so did I. It was the first night I ever had a conversation with Jaro, which is something you remember, kind of like the first time you drink kava and feel the world go numb. It’s cosmic, dude. Not much has changed in St. Cloud since the last visit. Downtown is very nice and the people were pleasant but it had an odd vibe pecking at its corners. As I walked down the street, I watched two old guys stumble out of a bar and yell drunkenly at each other for two city blocks (and they were walking in different directions).

            A café opened next door to the theater since the last visit with free WiFi, local art adorning the walls, a nice selection of beer, and some fantastic food. I spent the afternoon in the cozy confines catching up on the world (basketball scores) and reading Margo’s tweets (twitters?). After the show, they had fresh baked cookies and the owner came in with the CD’s she bought at the show. Everybody settled into some wine and Whites Off Earth Now provided the soundtrack to conversation.

            The theater tonight was an immaculately restored landmark in a barely breathing downtown (see also: Redding, CA). Seven years ago, it was a small but mighty crowd in St. Cloud. Tonight, the crowd was bigger and just as supportive. The entire Chicago venue from last night could have fit on the Paramount’s massive stage so the dynamics of the show were quite different. The band and sound crew adjusted accordingly and the songs were exploding from the stage. The power in Margo’s voice could be felt throughout the theater on every song. Pete propelled “A Common Disaster” from a wicked tight pocket and went Bonzo at the end of “Murder, Tonight.” During the last song, Mike and Jeff allowed the tide of feedback to recede leaving Al and Pete pulsating under Margo’s verse to great effect. It’s only rock and roll, but I like it….

Created with flickr slideshow.

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5 Responses to “Tour Diary – St Cloud, MN (March 20, 2010)”

  1. steve Says:

    March 22nd, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Yes the sound was great, yes the band was tight, however Margo’s voice was used way too often to promote the web site and not enough to sing. I heard from more than one fan that the show was too brief and that Margo’s voice didn’t appear as strong anymore. I thought she may be pacing herself for a strong finish. Margo’s voice did ring out twice during the second set and during the “one” encore number. Yes she is older and maybe fans shouldn’t expect as strong of a performance as we enjoyed 7 years ago. I left that show 7 years ago satisfied and hoping to see the band again. This was not the case on Saturday. Sadly disappointment followed this performance.

  2. Paul Says:

    March 22nd, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    This was one of the better performances by CJs that I have in seen in recent years. Margo’s voice sounded as strong as ever, I thought she was less chatty than usual and the band sounded really good. I like to check out Michael’s expressions during the show to verify my feeling on how the band is playing; as when the band is “in the zone” he’s happy. Mike had a smile on his face.

    Nice full set list, “Murder Tonight…” was great, and the songs played from the new album were really good, I’m anxious to hear the whole album.

    Out of the 15 or so times I’ve seen CJ’s play, this show was for sure in the top five.

  3. Jordan Says:

    March 23rd, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I agree with Steve: great sound, tight band, too much marketing of the website. I thought that’s why CJ has stayed in Canada rather than emigrate to California and produce a more commerical and lucrative sound: artistic integrity over filthy lucre. Of course you all need to make a living and support families, but please tone down the self-promotion, Margo! You guys are better than that. Also, please do not put a three foot vase with flowers on the same side of the stage where Michael and Jeff spend the entire show sitting down. Jeff Bird is an outstanding musician, but why did Michael surrender nearly every solo to him and his electric mandolin? My favorite CJ recordings are “Miles From Our Home” and “Open,” but not a single song from either so that was a disappointment. However, “Workin’ on a Building” is a favorite song and the extended version performed was fantastic. Not impressed with the new songs.

  4. Chris Says:

    March 24th, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Paul and I must have seen a different show than Steve and Jordan (and Jordan must have been in the restroom when the band played “Good Friday” and “Small Swift Birds”). I felt that Margo was as strong as the rest of the band, which is to say, very. The fact that she sounds just as good live as she does in the studio is a testament to her voice and her talent, and is refreshing in this Auto-Tune era. And I didn’t feel that Margo overpromoted the website at all (twice in a two hour set is too much, really?), and certainly not in any money-grubbing manner. Considering that most of what’s available on the website is free – maybe not to download, but to listen to (which includes a copious amount of unreleased songs the likes of which most bands would hoard and charge for) – I don’t see how her promotion of the website is anything but letting the fans know what is available for them, as a thank you for their decades of support.

  5. Jordan Says:

    March 25th, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Chris is right: CJ did play “Good Friday.” My mistake. I did have to leave the theater to arrange a seat change due to rude and noisy people sitting behind me, so maybe that’s when “Small Swift Birds” was performed. I don’t remember hearing it. As for Margo’s voice, that was Steve’s complaint, not mine. I think her voice was fine. However, I must respectfully disagree with Chris on the self-promotion. He asks if doing that twice in a two hour set is too much. Yes! Once is too much for me. Look, we already bought tickets, we’re in the venue, we all know CJ has a website, do we really need live advertising too? I also disagree that “most of what’s available on the website is free.” In fact, it’s just the opposite: most of what’s on the website is for purchase: tickets, downloads, CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, mugs, some very strange and very expensive prints Pete did, and other stuff. Now I don’t for a second begrudge CJ the right to have a website like this. Commercial websites and the vast majority of blogs exist as devices of self-promotion/aggrandizement. So be it. What I object to is a band exploiting another opportunity to sell just because they can. It is unnecessary and frankly degrading. Remember what Margo said, Chris? “Shopping [for CJ stuff] is healthy.” It’s also a bizarre expression of gratitude: I’m thanking you by encouraging you to give me more money. Huh? All that said, I love CJ, I’ll probably find some of the new material to buy, and some more of the old stuff, and I’ll see them again someday.