It was a double rainbow during "Dreams" for Brandi Carlile/ Photo by Jon Bream
As Brandi Carlile looked out at the sell-out crowd Wednesday at the Minnesota Zoo, she could see a rainbow of colors amongst the ponchos worn to combat the steady drizzle.
As the dampened fans looked at Carlile singing “Dreams” under a roof, two rainbows appeared in the sky above the Weesner Amphitheater stage. An omen?  Perhaps. Or maybe just a theme on a night in which Carlile spoke in support of Minnesotans United for All Families and in favor of gay marriage.
It was a night on which Carlile’s voice dazzled like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Her voice had many different colors, with startling turns. Her big instrument sounds formal but she sings in such an informal, natural way. Those hiccups, high notes and near-yodels as she slides and glides into screams without going out of tune. It’s a wondrous sound.
In her umpteenth appearance in the Twin Cities (her biggest market) since 2004, the Seattle-area singer-songwriter offered five selections from “Bear Creek,” her two-week-old album. The new single, “That Wasn’t Me,” was gorgeous, a spare gospel piano plaint about addiction; it could be her big breakthrough.
Carlile didn’t do any of her usual covers – no Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette or Leonard Cohen – but she did offer the gospel hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” as a solo piano finale.
The other noticeable changes for the 31-year-old singer were that twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth, her longtime collaborators, have switched sides of the stage (she pointed it out), and drummer Konrad Meissner is new, replacing Allison Miller who is touring with her own band. (Her energy and vibe were missed, even though Meissner is very competent.)
Carlile gushed about her love of the Twin Cities (she’s playing again Thursday at the zoo and has a private gig in town on Friday, as well). She gave a shout-out to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (who was in the audience), thanked her opening act Jeremy Messersmith (she mentioned that he was local) and talked about getting electrocuted when she’d performed at the State Fair bandshell (not the grandstand, she pointed out)  a few years ago.
Here is what Carlile played in her 95-minute zoo set on the opening night of her new tour:
Raise Hell/ Dreams/ Late Morning Lullaby/ What Can I Say/ Hard Way Home/ Before It Breaks/ Caroline/ Keep Your Heart Young/ A Promise To Keep/ Looking Out/ Follow/ Turpentine/ Dying Day/ The Story ENCORE Pride & Joy/ That Wasn’t Me/ His Eye Is on the Sparrow


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