Review and photos: Joseph and Bailen turn First Avenue into sibling central

All photos: Joseph, by Steven Cohen for MPR.

On Saturday evening, it was sibling central at First Avenue. There is something so magical about sibling harmony. It feels effortless, natural, and seamless. The trio Bailen (brothers Daniel and David, and sister Julia) opened for Portland-based Joseph (sisters Natalie, Allie, and Meegan Closner).

Having released an EP just a couple weeks ago entitled Stay Awake, Joseph had a handful of new songs for their Minnesota fans. This was my first time seeing the trio live, and I was curious about how their Americana sound would feel in the Mainroom. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of rock and roll they brought.

The sisters introduced themselves: Allie first, Meegan next. Natalie, unaware of the introductions, began singing the next song. Meegan stopped her, chuckling, as Joseph established a casual and friendly energy.

Weaving in their entire new EP throughout the night, they played each of the six tracks amidst songs from their two LPs, Native Dreamer Kit (2014) and I’m Alone, No You’re Not (2016). One of the first songs they played was the newly revised “Lifted Away,” which now had a quicker tempo and an electronic lift sounding almost like an entirely different song than the studio version, which had softer harmony and acoustic flow.

All three members of Joseph were tireless, even with Meegan being under the weather. It was clear as I watched the three interact, both vocally and conversationally, that on stage is where they belong. At one point Meegan and Allie sang together and for several chords, instead of finding harmony, they sang the same notes. It was so exact that it might have been layered tracks of the same person.

Natalie told the audience that “this is a crazy special night for us. This room is so amazing.” One of the songs on the new EP is a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which they played mid-set. They kept their more popular songs, “White Flag” and “Blood and Tears,” for later on. They invited Bailen to join them on stage and ended with a collective cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Moonlight Mile.” With all six on stage, it was like watching a tennis match as they volleyed sibling harmonies from stage left to stage right.

Allie, Meegan, and Natalie returned on stage for a two-song encore, beginning with “The Trouble with Us” — written by Nick Murphy and originally sung by Marcus Marr and Chet Faker. Slowing it down for the final song, “Sweet Dreams,” Joseph bid us goodnight. I left the Mainroom feeling balanced, realizing that Joseph gave us the right amount of calm and the right amount of lift.

Joseph setlist
All
Lifted Away
Closer
Wind
Planets
I Don’t Mind
Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Not Mine
Stay Awake
Hundred Ways
50-60-80
Whirlwind
Blood and Tears
White Flag
Moonlight Mile
Encore
The Trouble with Us
Sweet Dreams









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