Caitlin Rose at Triple Rock, 4/8/13
Photo By Kyle Matteson
With Andrew Combs and Martin Devaney
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
April 8, 2013
Caitlin Rose has the type of easygoing, affable Southern charm that can win over any audience. But more importantly, she's got the songs that can silence and stun any crowd as well. Both of those engaging talents were on full display at the Triple Rock on Monday night, as the Nashvillian singer/songwriter and her five-piece backing band (featuring electric, acoustic, and pedal steel guitars) delivered a spirited, poignant 70-minute set filled with modern, countrified rock numbers that briefly turned the edgy West Bank club into a serene honky-tonk, if only just for the evening.
"You guys going to be this quiet all night," Rose teased as she took to the stage. When the crowd responded that it was just because it was a Monday night, Rose quipped, "Yeah, that's kind of a bummer. But I like bummers. I like surprises too." And indeed, her lively set was full of surprises, as she drew liberally from all three of her albums as well as from her many musical inspirations along the way. But the focus was justly placed on Rose's excellent new album, The Stand-In, and the set started with a strong batch of standouts from that record. A rollicking take on "No One To Call" got things going straight away, before Rose introduced the next number, "Spare Me (Fetzer's Blues)," by hilariously saying, "This is a song about having too much shit in your house."
"I really like the shape of this room," Rose went on to mention. "I keep expecting lions to come out at any moment, gladiator style." And, after explaining how she liked clowns except when they are wearing tank-tops (?!), a lovely version of "Only A Clown" dutifully followed. Caitlin's insightful, jovial introductions, which continued throughout the set, served as a way to immediately place the crowd within the song before the band ever played a note, so that by the time the song started, the sentiments layered within them took on an air of familiarity that only strengthened their potency and passion of the numbers themselves.
A cover of the Deep Vibrations' "I Was Cruel," kept the early momentum going, with Caitlin putting down her guitar to focus on the song's wistful vocals. A moody, ominous take on "Waitin'" found Rose getting quite lost in the spirit of the song, looking away longingly while she delivered the moving lyrics. "Are you having a nice time? Are you drunk yet, we've been here a while?" Rose asked inquisitively, trying to connect with the rather tame but supportive Monday night crowd. After admonishing herself for her kindergarten-like setlists filled with lots of plural nouns, she shared that she wrote the next number when she was just 16. A stunning version of "For the Rabbits" quickly followed, showcasing Rose's tremendous writing talents (especially at such a young age), as well as her crystalline vocals, which soared effortlessly throughout the club.
Photo By Craig McCoy
"Old Numbers" was a classically sad country song about a thoroughly modern problem -- the phone numbers you have that you only call late at night, and how you need to either call them or delete them from your life forever. A rousing take on the Felice Brothers "Dallas" was another standout in a set full of them, with Rose mentioning how she was originally from Dallas but now she's a proud Nashville transplant, "just like everyone else in that damn town." "This song is for English majors," Rose exclaimed as a lead-in for the brokenhearted gem, "Menagerie." When the crowd roared in response to her intro, Caitlin laughed, saying, "How did I know that was going to happen?"
"This is a song I wrote with my friend Gary Louris," Rose explained before a rousing take on "Silver Songs." "You all should just call him up and ask if he wants to be your friend too." And while the Jayhawks' singer might not be answering those random calls, his work with Rose on the her new record is wonderful, as was the band's version of "Silver." "Anyone ever been to Vegas?" Rose then asked. "Anyone ever get married in Vegas by accident? This is a song about making a big decision that fucks up the rest of your life." A moving, heart-rending take on "Pink Champagne" followed, and was drenched in both emotion and regret, just like Vegas, actually.
Andrew Combs, who opened the show and played acoustic guitar in Caitlin's band, then took over lead-vocals on a forlorn take on Rose's favorite song of his, "Too Stoned To Cry," with Caitlin just clutching her beer bottle and singing along. The rest of the band then left the stage, leaving Rose alone with her acoustic for a touching take on "Sinful Wishing Well," from her exquisite 2010 album, Own Side Now. Prior to the song, Caitlin lightened the mood and deflected the pressure of having the stage to herself by joking affectionately, "I wrote this song when I was 18 and I keep playing it like a dickhead." She teared up at the end of the stirring number, and quickly looked for help from the band. "I'm gonna ask these boys to come back out here and save my ass."
The next set of songs served as the first encore of the night (according to the way the setlist was written out), with Rose asking us, "You guys like Buck Owens? I'm going to bring the mood of the night right the fuck back up again." And with that, the band launched into a boisterous take on the Owens' classic, "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," which found the group rocking out, completely lost in the lively rhythm of the track. After an affectionate introduction of her band, Rose said, "This is a song about smoking cigarettes in China," before a lovely take on "Shanghai" emphatically closed out the first encore.
Rose returned alone, and had one last story to tell. "This is a song I wrote about an old boyfriend who had a Dave Edmunds T-shirt that he wore all the time. He was the sweatiest, most disgusting punk-rocker that you've ever seen, and that shirt slowly grew discolored as he continued to wear it. This song is called 'T-shirt,' and I wrote it when I was 17." What followed was one of the most genuine, unguarded musical moments I've had the pleasure to witness, as Rose sang the plaintive, powerful song accompanied only by her own tambourine. The song ended with tears welled up in Rose's eyes (and I'm sure a few of her fans in the crowd), and with one last word of thanks she was gone, leaving all of us to catch our breath as we went back out into the chilly April night.
Personal Bias: I was first won over by the innumerable charms of Caitlin Rose when she opened for Johnny Flynn in the Entry in 2011, and now she has risen to can't miss status in my opinion.
The Crowd: A bit sparse (blame it on Monday night), but supportive and passionate about Rose and her songs.
Overheard In The Crowd: "She's like the Patsy Cline of our generation."
Random Notebook Dump: While I sadly missed Martin Devaney's opening set (which Martin himself assured me was a work of sheer brilliance), Andrew Combs set gradually picked up momentum, as it started off with him alone and acoustic, but gradually Rose's band (and Caitlin herself, eventually) filled in and the songs took off. His album, Worried Man, is well worth checking out.
No One To Call
Spare Me (Fetzer's Blues)
Only A Clown
I Was Cruel (The Deep Vibrations)
For The Rabbits
Dallas (The Felice Brothers)
Too Stoned To Cry (Andrew Combs)
Sinful Wishing Well
I've Got A Tiger By The Tail (Buck Owens)(Encore)
T-Shirt (Second Encore)
Photo By Craig McCoy
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