Local Concert Preview for Chicago:
March 8-14, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2009, Volume 16, #3
Written by John Metzger
Thu March 12, 2009, 05:30 AM CDT
3/13 - Alice Russell - Schuba's - Chicago - 10:30 p
These days, it seems as if a new soul singer is born in the U.K. every minute. In this regard, Alice Russell, who will perform at Schubaís on March 13, is the latest sensation to arrive from across the pond, where the buzz about her has reached a feverish pitch in the wake of her new album Pot of Gold. If the set feels somewhat more conservative than Russellís previous efforts, itís because the outing is designed to showcase her vocal range as well as her love of classic rhythm & blues fare. Unlike her predecessors ó Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, and Adele, among them ó Russell doesnít seem to feel obligated to fix what isnít broken by placing a modern spin upon the past. Instead, she dives headfirst into her idolsí creations, borrowing her favorite moments from cuts by the likes of Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. The problem with this approach is that there are moments when Russell gets lost in this process. In the long run, however, she very well could be the one who finally saves contemporary soul from the slick, inorganic mess it has become.
3/14 - Patty Larkin - SecondSpace Theatre - Elgin - 8:00 p
No one can deny Patty Larkinís adventurous streak. Although she began her career nearly 25 years ago as a dyed-in-the-wool folk singer, she since has broadened her sonic palette with a myriad of world music textures as well as an array of unusual sounds that she has learned to coax from her guitar. The problem, however, is that her material often has felt overly academic. As a result, she typically has struggled to find an audience outside her loyal cadre of musicians, songwriters, and critics. Larkinís latest foray Watch the Sky is, then, something of a breakthrough. Without conceding any of her ambitions, she has managed to string together a mesmerizing collection of songs that unfolds without pretension. Returning to her roots in the Midwest, Larkin, who was born and raised in Milwaukee, will perform at the Elgin Community Collegeís SecondSpace Theatre on March 14, and the small size of the venue will give fans a perfect view of how she works her magic.
3/14 - Razorlight - Double Door - Chicago - 10:00 p
Razorlight may still be setting up shop in small clubs around the country, such as Chicagoís Double Door, which it will call home on March 14. After hearing its latest set Slipway Fires, however, it has become abundantly clear that the band longs to be performing beneath the stars on the summerís amphitheater circuit where it can either feed off or hide behind the energy of oversized crowds. For certain, with Slipway Fires, Razorlight has pieced together its most infectious batch of pop-rock tunes to date. Throughout the endeavor, its pristine arrangements and grandiose choruses go hand-in-hand, making the effort a joy to hear, at least initially. Itís hard, however, not to wish that Razorlight had left its material a little rough around the edges, rather than polishing it until it no longer held interest. As engaging as Burberry Blue Eyes may be, it also feels as slight as a hit single by the Bay City Rollers, while Tabloid Lover could be mistaken for a lost collaboration between E.L.O. and Ratt. In other words, if Razorlightís indie-rock roots continue to filter through Slipway Fires, it is purely an accident. Hopefully, theyíll find their way back during the ensembleís concerts, during which a little gusto will be needed to deliver these songs effectively.
3/14 - Kinky - Congress Theater - Chicago - 9:00 p
Kinkyís latest effort Barracuda is a vast improvement over the unevenness of its predecessor Reina. Over the course of its new endeavor, the outfit ruthlessly slams its influences together just to see what happens. The end result combines the forcefulness of Janeís Addiction with the elastic shimmy of the Talking Heads, while adding a dash of hip-hop flavoring as well as a heaping helping of hip-shaping joyfulness drawn straight from Los del Rio. Although Kinkyís distinctive blend of funk-rock grooves, Latin rhythms, and electronic dance beats sound superb coming through the speakers of a home theater system, they truly were made to be heard on the dance floor. This is precisely what the Congress Theater will become when the band pays a visit on March 14.
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