PHOTOS and review of Cake at the Ogden Theatre in Denver - Reverb

Live review: Cake @ the Ogden Theatre

Oh yeah. Alright.

Sacramento’s Cake played two sold-out shows at the Ogden Theatre this week, unleashing their most rockabilly sound from their latest album “Showroom of Compassion.” Fronted by the acerbic John McCrea, Monday night’s show saw the band moving mechanically through its 20-year-old repertoire, with rare sparks flying when they offered their latest cuts.

“Shower of Compassion,” the band’s first new album in seven years, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts in January. But the win was bittersweet for Cake in that the 44,000 copies sold in the first week marked a new record low for a chart-topping album. Still, the heady debut floated the working-class band.

“Just when we thought no one was buying music anymore, you helped us survive and we really appreciate it,” McCrea said Monday night.

McCrea was exceptionally chatty –- even preachy and sometimes condescending –- during the show, taking nearly a half hour to give away a cherry tree and spending another half hour directing a split-house sing along that, when finalized, lasted a single stanza.

The frontman’s idiosyncratic, fill-every-note spoken-word singing is a trademark of Cake, but on Monday he leaned too heavy toward the chatter. We easily could have heard three or four more songs if not for his talking-at-you rambling. Still, the precision of the four musicians behind him often overshadowed his rants. Vince DiFiore’s triumphant trumpet rang loud in “Mexico” as did his keywork in the funky “Mustache Man (Wasted),” which McCrea dedicated to men with mustaches “like a cop” or a “dude who keeps a ‘Gimp’ in the basement.”

That was probably a bit awkward for the few dudes out there sporting the ‘stache.

The band never really engaged except for their new cuts, showing bursts of life in the countrified melodies of “Bound Away” and the flowing “Sick of You.” The second set saw the band cater to the nostalgic with 1998’s “Sheep Go To Heaven” and “Never There,” with bassist Gabe Nelson and drummer Frank French finding a bubbling pocket of groove in both.

After the band left the stage, dozens in the audience began screaming “Encore!” (Hint: yelling “Encore!” is identical to screaming “I’ve Never Been To A Concert Before!”) Then came the odd chant “We want Cake,” which left the Ogden sounding like a massive birthday party full of high-chair rattling toddlers.

The mechanized and unengaged “War Pigs,” “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” and “The Distance” encores thrilled the house with Cake’s most popular tunes, but revealed a band that looked more tired than fired up.

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Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.

Tina Hagerling is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out more of her concert photography.

  • Julia Monahan

    Sounds pretty close to what happened on Tuesday night but I felt that the band (and the crowd perhaps?) was a lot more engaged.u00a0nnHe gave away an apple tree but it only took maybe 10 minutes? And the sing alongs parts were fun rather then the forced vibe you mentioned.u00a0nnOverall I admit I have some rose colored glasses on for this show since it was Cake at the Ogden and on my birthday. Plus they sang Rock & Roll Lifestyle which is one of my all time favorites.

  • Jeremy Coss

    The album is called “Showroom of Compassion” not “shower of compassion”u00a0 The band was rocking all night long on Tuesday. I don’t believe there was a bad part in the night. The tree giveaway is just something they are trying to do to help the environment, I’d rather have that than some political agenda that some bands spout during shows (I’m looking at you Rage Against The Machine) They opened with Arco Arena, went right into Frank Sinatra, and ended the night with The Distance. There was not a bad song played all night. It’s obvious that the person sent to review this show is not really a Cake fan and completely missed the point. Everyone around me was having a blast and was loving everything. I guess they aren’t cool anymore because they have made it in the business 20 years and have yet to release a bad album.