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Dan Wilson @ the Hotel Cafe on 7/10

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Dan Wilson, the former lead singer of Semisonic, played an early set to an appreciative crowd at the Hotel Cafe on Thursday night. The multi-hyphenate singer-songwriter-musician-producer took to the stage with a small band for a mostly acoustic hour-long set.

LAist was pleasantly surprised by Wilson’s lively take on the songs from his first solo CD Free Life. While the CD is a mellow collection, driven by mid-to-slow tempo melodies, Thursday’s arrangements with acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and the occasional mandolin cast the songs in the new light for us. We only wished he could have put some of these versions on the CD.

He opened the evening with a stripped-down version of “Easy Silence,” which he co-wrote with the Dixie Chicks. (That collaboration, by the way, earned Wilson a Grammy for Song of the Year for "Not Ready to Make Nice.") He went on to play many songs from “Free Life.” Our favorites for the evening included “Against History” and the waltzy measure of “Cry.”

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The appreciative crowd even had a large singing role – and most complied – when asked to sing the chorus of “All Kinds of Beautiful.” It was one of those moments where the usually jaded LA crowd gets that warm, fuzzy feeling (if only for a second).

But we do have to say we were a little disappointed that Wilson didn’t throw the Semisonic fans more of a bone than “Secret Smile.” While we don’t need to hear “Closing Time” ever again, a little “DND” or “Gone to the Movies” could have worked just fine into the evening’s repertoire.

All Kinds - Dan Wilson

Photo of Dan Wilson in Philadelphia by chriszak via flickr.