Tonight, Madison Cunningham finally got the respect and headlining show she deserves in St. Paul. 

In past shows where Madison Cunningham has opened at the Palace Theatre, iv’e made note of the noise level from the audience during the show, oftentimes drowning out her singing during slower numbers. Tonight, that definitely wasn’t the case. An artist oftentimes dreams of enchanting an audience with more than just upbeat songs, and tonight, Madison was able to do that not just with her upbeat, bouncier tunes, but with her slower, more personal songs as well. 

Songs like Something to Believe in and Dry and Sand was met with awe, and a gently swaying audience, watching the musicians on stage (albeit in much tighter quarters, especially compared to the roomier Palace Theatre) who masterfully kept up with her songs. Perhaps no song was more personal than Life According to Rachel, which was written about the loss of Madison’s grandmother in the middle of the pandemic. Something that had hit home to many of us in the crowd, myself included. That song especially had the audience fully enchanted, Even the bartenders stopped serving. 

On the opposite end of that spectrum, Songs like Pin it Down, Song in My Head and the yet to be released Hospital and the almost celtic All I Ever Known had the crowd dancing and yelping all through the songs, reaching climatic heights i didn’t know were possible in the Turf Club. “Best night of the tour so far!” she mentioned. 

Madison Cunningham represents one of this generation’s best singer-songwriters, and perhaps even one of this generation’s most innovative guitarists. It wasn’t until I had seen her show in person that I noticed the deep, twinking sounds at the beginning and throughout Broken Harvest comes from an acoustic guitar. Her ability to get such unique sounds from her instruments, and play them so independently from her voice is incredible. Songs like Broken Harvest and Pin it Down are masterful examples of this separation from instrument and voice.  

Many of us in the crowd were not ready to leave when the encore came. “You knew this was coming” she said after being cheered back onto the stage. “Dont act so surprised. You’re the best, St. Paul”. She ended her set to I Close My Eyes and great applause. 

In a few weeks, She’ll play Madison Square Garden with her band, opening for Harry Styles, and will return to the Palace to open for The Punch Brothers early next year. On top of all this, she’ll likely be releasing a new record at some point to tour behind as well. Tonight, however, fans were treated to what many of us will remember to be an amazing, personal show, many of us will be able to brag about, should Madison Cunningham sell out the Xcel in a year or two. You heard it here first, folks.

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