Concert Review: Cloud Cult at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, MN – January 31, 2014

  • Clyde Iron Works
  • Duluth, MN
  • January 31, 2014
  • Photos and review by Joe Stadele for The Way That He Sings on February 4, 2014.

Cloud Cult-10“There [were] a lot times we tried to do this live over the years…every way that we tried to do it, it just didn’t ring correctly and then we messed around with this acoustic version and, finally, seven years later we can bring this out in a live way, so this a very new rendition of an old song”
~Craig Minowa 01/31/2014

Nearly a year has passed since Cloud Cult released the critically acclaimed Love.  The band capped off 2013 by recording three intimate acoustic performances at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis, MN.  In the process, singer/songwriter Craig Minowa was specific in his intentions; to create a live acoustic album which reflects the message of Cloud Cult. Moving forward into 2014, the band is looking back before moving forward with a live show that spring off the December performances with unplugged and plugged sets.

“This is the first time we are trying this out…we came today and had a five and a half hour soundcheck,” Minowa laughed, “we’re feeling pretty warmed up right now!”

Cloud Cult - Unplug (front)

A first look at the artwork of Cloud Cult’s Unplug. Recorded live in December 2013 at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis, MN.

Cloud Cult returned to the city where it all began on January 31st with a tour warm-up gig at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, MN.  Fans in attendance were treated to a first listen to the two new sets which were sprinkled with hits, rarities and the rarely-to-never played live. As an added bonus, those in attendance were given the opportunity to buy advance copies of Unplug (the new live album which will be available to the public in April).  The CD proved to be a hot commodity as fans packed the merchandise booth all night long waiting for their copy.

“We spent a lot of time just getting away from the wires and keyboards,” Minowa said.  “We’d go outside into the woods, light a fire, and just strip it back to its acoustic sound to see what happens in its simplicity. So there’s a lot of songs from the Love album that really remind me of that time, with the good friends up here; just having everything in the world gone and something really simple coming out of being by ourselves and getting away from that complexity.” In this process, the band was able to give a voice to some key song in Minowa’s back catalog, including The Meaning of 8’s “Purpose,” which hadn’t been played live until the 2013 acoustic sessions.

Cloud Cult-23The acoustic set mirrored the setlist of Unplug, with the additions of “Meet Me Where You’re Going” and “You’re The Only Thing In Your Way,” which featured excellent banjo work by Shawn Neary.  There was an obvious concentration vocal interludes and harmonizing as the band moved through songs like “Meet Me Where Your Going” to “The Ghost In Our House.”  One of the more touching moments of the acoustic set was reserved for a special 14 year old in the audience, Miles.  Sarah Perbix led the band on keys as everyone in attendance sang “Happy Birthday” to the “great buddy” of the Minowa’s late son, Kaiden.  Closing out the acoustic set, Minowa reminded the audience the band can only play so loud acoustic and things were about to get much louder.  He wasn’t kidding.

Moving in to the electric portion of the evening, the band built momentum with the euphoric clapper “All Of The Things We Couldn’t See” and seamlessly transitioned into the epic fan favorite “There’s So Much Energy (In Us)”.  During, “Everybody Here Is A Cloud,” Arlen Peiffer’s drumming induced stomping which could be felt shaking the upper balcony.  In a rare twist, Shannon Fitz-Rubin took the mic to sing a haunting version of “Car Crash” and the band led into “The Calling” with the trippy “Intro” of 2005’s Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus.  Celloist Daniel Zamzow took over bass duties for Shawn Neary during a rocking “1x1x1.”  Closing out the show, the band formed into drum circles for an inspired “Blessings (The Invocation Pt. 2)” and “The Exploding People.”

Perhaps due to the extended length of the set, Scott West and Connie Minowa took a different approach toward their live paintings.  They drew out their images in pencil and chalk during the acoustic set before adding colors of paint primarily in the electric set.  Having both completed their works early, they contributed abundantly to vocals and drums during the latter half of the electric set.

Cloud Cult-21

Cloud Cult warm up 2014 at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, MN

For a warm up gig, Cloud Cult fired on all cylinders in Duluth.  If have yet to see the band, this might just be the time to go see them as the band will be touring on the acoustic/electric format through (at least) the first half of 2014.  The 2014 tour officially kicks off at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL on February 28th to be followed by the release audio and video release of Unplug in April.


You Were Born
Breakfast With My Shadow
Meet Me Where You’re Going
The Ghost Inside Our House
No One Said It Would Be Easy
You’re the Only Thing In Your Way
Chain Reaction
Running With The Wolves
Journey Of The Featherless
Step Forward (xylophone)
We Made Up Your Mind
Pretty Voice
Transistor Radio
Chemicals Collide
Complicated Creation


All Of The Things We Couldn’t See
There’s So Much Energy (In Us)
Everybody Here Is A Cloud
Car Crash
Intro [Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus]
The Calling
Love You All
Unexplainable Stories
Blessings (The Invocation Pt. 2)
You’ll Be Bright (The Invocation Pt. 1)
Love & the First Law of Thermodynamics
Good Friend
The Exploding People

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