Two-thirds of Semisonic: Dan Wilson, John Munson

Two-thirds of Semisonic: Dan Wilson, John Munson

Two out of three ain’t bad, Meat Loaf told us in song. That was true when it came to Semisonic on Saturday night.

The popular 1990s Minneapolis pop trio was scheduled to perform sold-out gigs Thursday at the Turf Club in St. Paul and Saturday at First Avenue. However, drummer Jake Slichter slipped on ice after rehearsal on Monday in northeast Minneapolis, breaking his hand and forcing the postponement of these shows until June.

But a show had to go on, right? Well, Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson wanted to do right by about two-dozen fans who had flown in from the East Coast for the concerts. So he decided to perform a special private show on Saturday at the tiny Clown Lounge in the basement of the Turf Club.

Of course, a Dan Wilson solo show is never truly a solo show even if it’s in front of only 65 people. There was a parade of guests, including pianist-guitarist Andy Thompson, singer-guitarist Jeremy Messersmith, percussionist Ken Chastain and eventually Semisonic bassist John Munson.

Semisonic fans got to hear “Great Divide,” “FNT,” “In Another Life,” “All Kinds” and “Down in Flames,” a request shouted from a fan. One of the most appealing aspects of the Semisonic material was the harmony singing of Messersmith, which added a heavenly new dimension.

Messersmith and Wilson collaborated on a few numbers, including the alien anthem “Once You Get To Know Us” and Messersmith’s hauntingly lovely “Ghost.”

As he is wont to do at his solo shows, Wilson told some anecdotes about songwriting, especially collaborations. There was the tale of how country ace Chris Stapleton came up with the title “When the Stars Come Out,” which Wilson said was about Los Angeles, where the ex-Minnesotan now lives. Wilson argued that the L.A. sky was too hazy to see stars. Stapleton explained that it was a metaphor, as in movie stars.

Wilson offered no such back stories before delivering a gorgeous guitar version of “Someone Like You,” which he wrote with and for Adele. Afterward, he said when he was doing sound check earlier at the Clown Lounge, the song sounded like a mashup of ‘90s rock and Adele.

“It could have been Staind or Disturbed,” he opined. “Disturbed was the Adele of their time.”

The title tunes from Wilson’s solo albums, “Free Life” and “Love Without Fear” rounded out the set list.

Wilson mentioned Slichter, who is recuperating at his home in New York, at least twice during the 75-minute set. The singer joked: “Jacob is mad at you for your [expletive] ice.”

No need to worry about ice when all three members of Semisonic perform June 14 at the Turf Club and June 16 at First Avenue. 

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