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

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.

[jump] 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 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.

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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

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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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