Brandi Carlile at the MN Zoo Amphitheater, 6/20/2012

Brandi Carlile with Jeremy Messersmith
MN Zoo Amphitheater, Apple Valley
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brandi Carlile is an artist that can inspire an undying loyalty in her fans -- fans who will sell out two shows during the week in a suburb and sit in the rain for two hours just to hear their favorite artist sing. As the singer took the stage, the sun peeked out behind the clouds and cast a lovely glow, but even more lovely was the rainbow that set the backdrop over the swamp/lake at the MN Zoo Amphitheater.

Opening for the Washington native was Minneapolis artist Jeremy Messersmith, who performed solo and debuted a new song "I Want to be Your One Night Stand." Whether it may end up on a future album or not isn't a big deal; it seems that the singer is simply having fun writing songs that may not have deep meanings in between his 2010 The Reluctant Graveyard and the new album currently in the works.

Brandi Carlile at the MN Zoo Amphitheater, 6/20/2012
Photo by Youa Vang

After a six month hiatus from touring, Brandi decided to open her tour with two shows in Minnesota, a state that loves her and fills the stands every time she is in town. Brandi's music may be described as American alternative country, but her songs seem to run more on the country side -- each one being a short story in itself, often telling of heartache and redemption.

Many artists may take a few songs to get the crowd warmed up, but Brandi wasted no time and brought the energy from the first song, even throwing a quick line from The Judds' "Rocking With the Rhythm of the Rain" before "Late Morning Lullaby." "What Can I Say" is a bluesy number that she sang sans guitar, taking on a demeanor that brought to mind a young Elvis Presley -- which says a lot since Presley's daughter was just in town last night at the Fine Line and not able to captivate a crowd as well as Carlile can.

Brandi Carlile at the MN Zoo Amphitheater, 6/20/2012
Photo by Youa Vang

Touring behind her new album Bear Creek, Brandi introduced "Hard Way Home" and the album as the band branching off as a new type of band, saying, "I'd love to be Ryan Adams, putting out a new album every six months, but it would be a lot of banal shit no one would care about." The interesting thing is, most of her songs are about banal happenings, but Brandi is such a good storyteller, in between and also in song, that everything fits.

By this time in the show, the rain had settled to a soft mist, giving the show a dream-like effect. "Keep Your Heart Young" is certainly one of the more "country" tracks off Bear Creek, containing the classic narrative that is often found in country music. After performing the song, Brandi urged everyone in the audience to write a letter to Dolly Parton and ask her to duet with Carlile on the new piece.

Brandi has a clear-as-a-bell voice that will break your heart, wonderfully featured on "Turpentine" and her big hit "The Story," a poignant love song. Her encore consisted of "Pride and Joy" and her current single "That Wasn't Me." Carlile introduced "That Wasn't Me" as a song about addiction -- the affect it has on the addict and others and the inevitable conclusion of addiction. Told from the perspective of the addict, Brandi shares that, "Ultimately this song, and all things, are about forgiveness." On her final piece, Carlile was left on stage to play the hymn-like "His Eye is on the Sparrow" solo on the piano.

The singer is clearly grateful for every fan that came out to see her at the zoo, often saying so between every song, but the truest words spoken by her tonight were, "I am grateful because I was born to do this." No doubt.

Critic's bias: I am not very familiar with Brandi's newer pieces, and I always feel you connect more with music that you know, but I enjoyed every song that was performed tonight. It's no wonder Carlile can sell out every show she plays in the Cities. Also, I don't think I have ever seen a bad show at the MN Zoo Amphitheater.

The crowd: Middle agers and some younger women mixed in.

Random notebook dump: This was the first time in fourteen years that Phil and Tim Hanseroth (her writing and touring partners) had changed stage positions.

Overheard in the crowd: "Oh, a double rainbow. God must like Pride."


Raise Hell
Late Morning Lullaby
What Can I Say
Hard Way Home
Before It Breaks
Keep Your Heart Young
A Promise to Keep
Looking Out
Dying Day
The Story

Pride and Joy
That Wasn't Me
His Eye is on the Sparrow

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