Concert review: Camera Obscura / Laura Cantrell at First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN – July 26, 2014

Published by JB on July 28, 2014

All I ever wanted was someone to rely on
All I ever wanted was somewhere to call home”  from ‘New Year’s Resolution’ by Camera Obscura.

In the long-lasting and ever-increasing list of perfect indie pop bands, Camera Obscura sits firmly in their polite corner of the world; wearing some cute, twee-flavored brass knuckles after each new stellar LP release for anyone that tries to nudge them out of their rank among the greats.   And great they are, indeed.  In front of 1000 loyal fans (and a few dozen drunk noisy ones at the bar) the Tracyanne Campbell-led juggernaut from Glasgow was bubbly and dazzling.   Playing for a solid 90 minutes, the smiling and obviously relieved Campbell seemed to enjoy reaching the final leg of their North American tour.  Because of course it’s one thing to go on an overseas tour and then it’s another to go on an overseas tour with your 10-month old baby.  There’s multi-tasking and then there’s 20140726_CObscura_D6H14MULTI-tasking!

Last year on tour a pregnant Campbell and Camera Obscura opened up for the Zooey Deschanel/M. Ward-led She and Him duo.  This time though, appropriately, Camera Obscura is the deserved headliner – and playing at this immortal venue coincidentally on the eve of the 30 year anniversary of Purple Rain.   That movie put this venue on the preverbal map forever and a mere 20 miles away – just as Camera Obscura was wrapping up their encore, the Minneapolis purple hero known as Prince was launching his own show at Paisley Park.

After 40 opening minutes of tightly-wound and delightful folk from the super smooth Laura Cantrell, Campbell and the Obscuras breezed through a brisk set of their tiny pop masterpieces.   Carried along elegantly with Campbell’s perfectly miserable, heartbroken vocals the songs had the yearning in them that has carried Camera Obscura for over a decade now.   Tracks from the new release Desire Lines show no sign of melodic slowdown for the band.   The songs are beautifully arranged and masterfully played by a band that simply makes it look too easy.   At first glance it appears like a color-by-numbers run through of their greatest hits – but instead it’s so much more.   They’re simply that good!

I had the opportunity speak with Ms. Campbell after the show and I told her that I hoped motherhood wouldn’t slow down her recording in the future and she seemed quite optimistic that more great stuff was ahead – it was just a matter of making that time.  I told her she was one of the more underrated songwriters of our generation which earned a tiny smile.  Patience will be worth it in this instance.  Many more great days are ahead as this band continues to bask in an extended prime.


Review:  Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

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