Written by Bill Whiting
Sacramento, California’s favorite sons, Cake, played in front of a packed house at the Aronoff Center’s Proctor & Gamble Hall in Cincinnati on May 19. Splitting their performance into two sets, the quintet was able to spread their popular hits and deep cuts from previous recordings into an infectious ear pleasing stream of consciousness on the dry, warm May evening. Lead vocalist John McCrea was a strong and thoughtful master of ceremonies, making sure the majority of the crowd was on it’s feet, and enjoying the moment. Drummer Paulo Baldi and bassist Gabe Nelson kept the rhythm lines clean and tight on the 1996 nuggets, “Sad Songs and Waltzes” and “Frank Sinatra” from the classic long player, Fashion Nugget. Xan McCurdy’s fluent axe attack on lead guitar enhanced the standout tracks “Sheep Go To Heaven” and “Mexico” from 1998’s masterful project, Prolonging the Magic. But, it was on their self released, number one chart topper, Showroom of Compassion, that Cake was able to let it all hang out, and they stretched out “Long Time” and “Mustache Man (Wasted)” with an ear popping, improvisational vengeance. Keyboardist, and trumpet blasting wizard, Vince DiFiore, enhanced the sheer entertainment vibe of Cake’s stage presence one hundred percent, pushing along the new songs “Bound Away,”plus “Federal Funding,” and provided the essential artist to audience thread on the radio ready anthem, “Sick of You.” And, then, there are those great compositions that stick in the brain, and never let go, such as “What’s Now is Now” from Showroom of Compassion, “Comanche” from 1994’s underrated LP Motorcade of Generosity, and “Opera Singer” from 2001’s brilliant disc, Comfort Eagle. So, it was no surprise that Cake had their fans in the palms of their hands, singing along to the game changers, “The Distance,” ” Never There,” and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” during the end run of their Aronoff Center showcase. Indeed, Cake at the Proctor & Gamble Hall in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio was a sweet, professionally handled gem from Sacramento’s Cake that will long be remembered with fondness by those who attended the indoor party on that late May night.