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Cranberries Could Use More Time To Ripen

Cranberries Friday, Aug. 2, The Gorge

With growth comes growing pains.

This certainly can be said about the Cranberries and their performance at The Gorge on Friday.

The band is trying to both break into bigger venues and broaden its musical reaches. Unfortunately, the group requires more maturing.

The Irish band’s current swing through the United States is its first in large outdoor amphitheaters. And the Cranberries have yet to assemble a compelling enough show worthy of a big venue.

It’s usually a bad sign when the stage looks overwhelmingly big for a band. Friday, the stage swallowed the Cranberries.

There was virtually no movement from band members with the exception of singer Dolores O’Riordan.

Musically, the band was tight. But the Cranberries, especially O’Riordan, didn’t push themselves. The singer is an amazing vocalist who can sing both high soprano and low alto - not an easy feat.

One would expect her to really push the threshold of her beautiful voice. Yet mostly she was pretty contained.

Next, there was the subject matter of some of the group’s songs.

“I Just Shot John Lennon” - from the band’s latest album, “To the Faithful Departed - attempted to show what a major impact Lennon’s death made on the band. Yet the lyrics were about as profound as an 11 p.m. news broadcast, doing little more than restating the obvious.

Compounding matters, the wind gusts warbled the band’s sound, causing the quartet to sound like a warped record at times.

The Cranberries finally did gain some momentum late in their set.

“Salvation” (though it’s a shallow look at drug abuse) and “Zombie” were sonic dust devils. And their encore of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” was terrific.

Opening band Cracker already has arrived at maturity.

It has songs, it has depth and it has a raucously delightful show. What it doesn’t have is the popularity.

What made Cracker’s set so good Friday was its members’ adeptness at trying on a multitude of styles, wear them honorably and accent them with their own quirky personalities. They played infectious honky-tonk during “Mr. Wrong,” funny roots country during “Euro-Trash Girl,” crusty power-pop during “Hate My Generation,” blistering punk rock during “100 Flower Power Maximum” and foot-stomping blues during “Sweet Thistle Pie.”

After shelling out a slew of highoctane rockers, singer David Lowery braced the audience for a slow number - “Big Dipper” - by stating, “You’re probably gonna think we’re schizophrenic.”

Maybe so, but the delicate “Big Dipper” stood out among the others as Cracker’s most arresting song. Long after Cracker left the stage, the sweetly sung tune lingered on as the Big Dipper peaked out in the central Washington sky.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo