Sara Bareilles at the MN Zoo, 7/12/2011


Sara Bareilles with Raining Jane

July 12, 2011

MN Zoo Amphitheater

Sara Bareilles introduced her show with the exclamation, "We haven't played  a headlining show in a long time, but we said, 'Fuck it!'" -- thus setting the mood for a perfect night for music in the zoo. 

With the dramatic change in the previous hot July weather, guests were sitting comfortably in the MN Zoo Amphitheater.  Brian Oake of Cities 97 said it best, declaring, "These are the nights I live for.  Turn off your cell phones and just enjoy the music."


[jump] Sara opened with her current radio hit "Uncharted" to a sold-out crowd, holding nothing back especially when dropping the F-bombs, which led her to joke, "We're checking to see if I have Tourettes."

The bluesy "Gonna Get Over You" brought to mind a hip-shaking Elvis Presley with its four beats of 1920s burlesque piano, in what was introduced as "a song about getting a douche-bag out of your life."

Music is the highlight of a show, but it's easy to forget how much of an impact a spectacular light show can bring to a performance, which lent a dreamy quality on songs such as "Many the Miles."

With the long days of summer, Sara shares that, "It''s a little weird to do a show when it's still daylight.  At night, it looks cool under the lights, but during the day, it's 'Oh, she's just sweaty.'"  A sense of humor and musical talent led to men shouting, "I love you!"  Which then led to Sara asking, "Who loves me?  Do I have to call security?"

Included in the set were "Breath Again" and "Basketcase" which got Sara out from behind the piano, but her cover of Mumford and Sons' "Little Lion Man" was what really got the crowd going, even with a misstep in forgotten lyrics. 

Halfway through the production, I found myself coming to admire Sara's music, mostly for the fact that despite having a lot commercial success, and even seeing a few songs being romantic-comedy-ready, not all of her songs were written with the intent of being marketed.  These songs were written because she was so passionate about getting her music heard.

The last songs of her set were the radio hits with a different spin.  The chord structures and lyrics were the same, but if you weren't already familiar with the songs, you would never recognize it by this performance alone.

"Bottle It Up" featuring her backing band on the piano, with Sara pounding on the kick drum, carries one of my favorite lines in a song: "There'll be girls across the nation that will eat this up, babe, I know it's your soul, but could you bottle it up?"

Her ode to her record label "Love Song" and recent radio hit "King of Anything" round out the regular set before the encore, where I truly felt Sara's voice was showcased.  Sara claims, "I speak to the broken-hearted.  It's what I do," and in the goose-bump inducing "Gravity," she does.  Performed a capella, her voice is able to shine through and able to cut you straight through to the soul. 

She didn't name the title of this never-before-performed song in her encore, but it was preempted with how she grew up with a lot of images issues.  The lyrics "You feel like the ugly girl / Trade in your summer skin for those high-heeled shoes to make him want to be with you" made me think of all the young girls in the crowd and how they may see Sara Bareilles as this woman who may have her shit together and all this stage confidence, but underneath it all, she is insecure as all of them.

Personal bias: I was mainly familiar with Sara Bareilles' radio hits, but she blew me away with her musicianship.

The crowd: Many middle-aged couples, but outside of that, the majority was young girls.

Overheard in the crowd: "I don't think I'm 'suburban' enough to be at this show."

Random notebook dump: I always wonder if to be a backup musician, you have to have a certain "look."  The band all had the same look, and the bassist was an uncanny John Corbett.

Set List:




Gonna Get Over You

Machine Gun

Many the Miles

Breathe Again



Little Lion Man

Come Round Soon

Bottle It Up

Love Song

King of Anything



"New Song"

Let the Rain