In the dim lit, haze coated Turf Club last night, Madi Diaz brought her Crying in Public tour to St. Paul. Since her release of the 2021 critically acclaimed History of a Feeling, she’s had the opportunity to open for Harry Styles as the album landed on many top lists of 2021.
Five red light-bulbs and four tipped-over flickering lamps softly illuminated the stage for Madi. The low light fit perfectly with the emotionally vulnerable songs from her newest album. It created a safe space to be in the shadows, feel, and not have to worry about being seen.
Starting the evening was “Rage,” a simmering track recalling the fallout from a breakup. Much like the album, “Man in Me” followed with Madi expertly cutting through the haze on stage with pointed lyrics questioning what just happened in the relationship.
“If it wasn’t real, why do I still feel it?Did we mean it at all? Did we really mean it? If it wasn’t real, why do I still feel it? Did we mean it at all? Did we really mean it?”
The audience first started timidly singing along with Madi during “Crying in Public.” Drums were added to the mix as it ramped up. During “Resentment,” a song co-wrote by Kesha, the chorus emboldened the audience a bit more, causing Madi to pause, smile, and reach out to the crowd: “I hear you, St. Paul.”
Heavier “Nervous” was tucked between her two newest songs, “Love Looks Different” and “Hangover.” Hearing the drums climb and pound with Madi’s more aggressive playing was a great wave in the set.
During two songs from her 2012 release Plastic Moon, a few old schoolers (like myself) found themselves transported back to the moment we first heard her voice. “Heavy Heart” fell in the middle of the set, with “Love You Now” closing out as the encore choice. Both are instilled with the crafty songwriting, while Madi’s strong voice seems to sigh over the melodies, only to strategically belt out long glory notes the next.
The top highlights came with the angsty “Think of Me,” which gave the audience permission to curse and hoot with agreement. The other came with the poignantly written advice song “New Person, Old Place.” One of the best songs of 2021, Madi delivered a beautiful performance that left a gap of stunned silence in the venue.
Before leaving the stage, Madi wanted to turn a page and share a new song about the return of love called “Paranoid.” Written after receiving a text from her new boyfriend, the first line,
“What the fuck do you want, cause I’ll give you all I got”
speaks volumes to the depth of love we all have. It’s a statement of not holding back, of risking the same results together.
Although relationships are the subject for the majority of her songs, Madi Diaz always brings a different way and angle in expressing the things we all feel. She brings an emotional intelligence to the rudimentary ways we heal and try to analyze our own misfortunes. Last night in a dark room surrounded by feelings, we all connected to better understand that plight.