The Lumineers at Target Center, 5/31/2013
with Cold War Kids and J. Roddy Walston and the Business
Target Center, Minneapolis
Friday, May 31, 2013
A career based on eleven songs can be a scary thing. Is that enough? Colorado's the Lumineers don't seem too bent out of shape trying to please anyone, and have thrived happily off their massive single "Ho Hey" thus far. The band launched to stardom quickly based off some hooting and the deceivingly simple and easily salable line: "I belong to you, you belong to me, you're my sweetheart."
Creating the feel of a front porch concert in the Appalachian Mountains, the Lumineers' stage setting sectioned off their cello, drums, and piano on platforms backed by patio railing and had chandeliers that were raised and lowered based on the songs. For their set, the band took their 11 recorded songs and added covers and some new pieces that they have been working on. How do you get away from the song that defines your career -- and you're most likely sick of? Play it early in the set. The band threw in "Ho Hey" four songs in after a cover of Sawmill Joe's " I Ain't Nobody's Problem But My Own."
"Classy Girls" is the ultimate narrative of a pickup in a bar, building into a fevered frenzy of acoustic guitars battling with the mandolin and kick drum that was set right up front for drummer Jeremiah Fraites, who is a dead-ringer for Woody Harrelson. Perhaps it was a nod to someone that obviously flavored their sound, or perhaps they were in Minnesota -- bands do tend to cover Dylan or Prince when they come through the Cities -- but no matter, the band pulled out their countrified version of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" for the Minneapolis crowd.
Lead singer Wesley Schultz shared that he had always wanted to be a basketball player growing up and that he had told his mom he'd get on the court, he just didn't think it would have been this way [as a musician]. Launching into the poignant "Slow it Down," Schultz's voice held a promise of heartbreak that carried throughout the stadium. Even though the song was called "Slow it Down," Wesley was eventually joined onstage by Jeremiah, who sped up the piece to once again a foot-stomping clap-along song.
The Lumineers is essentially a three-piece, but include two unofficial members in their pianist and accordianist/guitarist when touring. To get back to their roots, they played a run of songs with just the three members -- Jeremiah, Wesley, and cellist/backup vocalist Neyla Pekarek. One of those being "The Duet" with Neyla stepping away from the cello and, as the name implies, dueting with Wesley on the new piece that begins with "I love everything about you." Another hit for the band, perhaps?
Neyla's haunting cello plays a lot into the band's songs, most especially "Charlie Boy," but the entire ensemble decided to take the stripped-down versions of their show even further by heading into the crowd and playing in the audience in a campfire-like singalong atmosphere. Before leading into "Eloise," Schultz urged, and almost shamed audience members, to put away their cell phones and just be present in the moment. When some people didn't comply, he asked the rest of the audience to clap until they put them away.
While "Ho Hey" may be the group's biggest hit thus far, "Stubborn Love" is a better written piece -- heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time. With not much left from their album, the band closed their regular set with the playful "Flapper Girl" opening on a toy piano and graduating to the upright.
Expressing his gratitude, Wesley mentioned the first time they played in Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry, and hoping to play in the Mainroom, never thinking he would be playing at the Target Center, before proceeding into their encore with "Morning Song." The band took the Talking Heads' "This Must be the Place" and rearranged the piece into a Lumineers-style song, but you knew they wouldn't end on someone else's song. With the lights down, they built up anticipation and the crowd wasn't having it, so they started clapping before any note was played. The crowd was ready to cheer for anything the band had in store, not knowing that "Big Parade" was made for clapping along and carry them home for the evening.
Critic's bias: I saw the Lumineers last year at the Basilica Block Party, and I feel they have certainly polished and improved on their show in the year that they have been touring.
The crowd: A mix of people from suburbanites to fans that knew every word to every Lumineers' song.
Opener: Opening was indie-rock band Cold War Kids who recently played at First Avenue, a place better suited for the band. Although the band had a lot of energy and great stage presence, the group fell a little flat in a venue so large. The group loudly played a selection of songs from their darker old albums and some from this year's Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. The Lumineers later announced their love for CWK, but just because you like a band, it doesn't always make sense to tour with them.
Overheard in the crowd: "I thought the song was called 'Hey Ho.'"
Random notebook dump: Wesley's step/skip that he does when playing reminds me of a tap dancer. It would be interesting to see if he wore tap shoes during a show.
Randoms notebook dump 2: This band was born in the wrong decade. They would fit in perfectly into 1920.
I Ain't Nobody's Problem But My Own - Sawmill Joe cover
Flowers in Your Hair
Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan cover
Slow It Down
This Must be the Place - Talking Heads cover
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