Lambchop at the Dakota, 4/26/12


The Dakota, Minneapolis

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"It's been too long," said pianist Anthony Crow midway through Lambchop's first performance in Minneapolis in a decade. He and enigmatic frontman Kurt Wagner traded recollections of their March 2002 performance at the 400 Bar, a show which may have drawn the very same crowd, based on this writer's experience. Crow and Wagner joked about the snow that night and the relative intimacy of the venue, and the rest of us ran into old friends.

This exchange was after the band once hyped as "Nashville's most fucked up country band" played through nearly everything on their latest album, Mr. M, at the Dakota, without saying a word.

The first half of the set had the atmosphere of a recital - we'd been admonished to turn off our cell phones, our flash photography and our recording devices. Those of us daring to whisper received a look or two, even during Grant Hart's opening set. Regardless, Lambchop's unique baroque pop thrived live. The songs from Mr. M recalled the simple intensity of Lambchop's earliest albums.

After talking about their last set here in town, the group dove into a selection of fan favorites. It almost seemed as if the air was taken from the room for a moment when Wagner began the first flamenco-esque runs of "Interrupted", a track from their 1998 album What Another Man Spills.

A song from Is a Woman followed ("My Blue Wave") as well as a welcome "Soaky in the Pooper".

"I know you guys were probably in high school when this came out," said Wagner, introducing the last song of their set. "Soaky" brought laughter throughout the house, as it should. Lambchop came back with an encore of covers (Glen Campbell and Dylan) but left us all wanting a few more favorites - Kurt's or ours. Just a few of the classics, please, since it may well be another decade before we have the chance to ask again.

Set list:

If Not I'll Just Die
The Good Life (Is Wasted)
Kind Of
Gone Tomorrow
Mr. Met
Nice without Mercy
My Blue Wave
Soaky in the Pooper

Guess I'm Dumb
I Threw It All Away

The crowd:
Younger as the seats got cheaper. Full of the Lambchop faithful, and probably the same crowd as the 400 Bar show in 2002.

Overheard: Not a whisper until Crow and Wagner went into their hammy routine.

Random thought during Grant Hart's opening set: What's with Hüsker Dü and requests. You were in Hüsker Dü, you can pick the songs!

Highlight of the evening: Wagner was asked to turn around by a pretty woman on one side of the stage. He had his back to them all night because of the Dakota's weird looking glass layout. He crooned the Glen Campbell classic "Guess I'm Dumb" (by Brian Wilson) directly to her.

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