Local Concert Preview for Chicago & Milwaukee:
April 1-7, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2009, Volume 16, #4
Written by John Metzger
Wed April 1, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
4/2 - Graham Parker - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p
4/4 - Graham Parker - Beverly Arts Center - Chicago - 8:00 p
In the late 1970s, Graham Parker and Elvis Costello unofficially had a friendly little competition to see who was best suited for the title of "angry young man." With time — and advancing age — however, both artists have turned their attention to other matters. Costello broadened his horizons by dabbling in operatic and classical fare, while Parker simply found happiness in domestic life. Leave it to George W. Bush to reawaken their vitriolic humor. Since joining the Bloodshot family in 2004, Parker has been on a tear. With Your Country, Songs of No Consequence, and his latest set Don’t Tell Columbus — not to mention the singles that were issued via YouTube by his election-year alter-ego Tex Skerball — Parker not only has laid waste to Republican policies that have led to war abroad, environmental devastation, and a ransacked economy, but he also has taken former flames, Baby Boomers, and American corporations to task for their failures. On April 2, Parker will perform at S.P.A.C.E., a newly opened venue in Evanston. Two nights later, he’ll bring his caustic material to the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago.
4/3 - Five Peace Band - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
Lately, Chick Corea has been very busy and very successful. In fact, the sheer diversity of his output has been quite staggering. Not only did he work with banjoist Bela Fleck on The Enchantment, but he also reunited with vibraphonist Gary Burton at the concerts that were featured on The New Crystal Silence, a set that picked up a Grammy Award in February for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Last year, he and guitarist John McLaughlin rekindled Return to Forever for a mammoth concert tour, which, in turn, has spawned the Five Peace Band. Considering that the ensemble also features bass player Christian McBride, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, and drummer Brian Blade, it’s safe to say that the outfit is Corea and McLaughlin’s latest supergroup. In concert, the Five Peace Band has been tackling tunes that harken back to their days with Miles Davis as well as material from McLaughlin’s latest outing Floating Point. The Five Peace Band will perform at the Chicago Theatre on April 3.
4/3 - Shawn Mullins / David McMillin - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p
There was a time when Shawn Mullins seemed daunted by the prospect of repeating the success of his Top 10 single Lullaby. Nevertheless, with the release of his latest set Honeydew, he finally seems to have put the constraints that he had placed upon his work behind him. The outing might not break new ground. Yet, via a series of finely crafted arrangements that blend folk, country, and rock, its songs effectively speak to the disconnected state of life in the modern age. Honeydew most certainly is the finest outing in Mullins’ canon, and at long last, he sounds more like an industry veteran than a pop-star wannabe. Mullins, joined by fellow songwriter David McMillin, will perform at Evanston’s S.P.A.C.E. on April 3.
4/3 - Morrissey - Eagles Ballroom - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
4/4 - Morrissey - Aragon Ballroom - Chicago - 8:00 p
Gen X’ers who bristled at Morrissey’s work with The Smiths likely will never be convinced to follow him now that he has turned 50. Still, this hasn’t stopped the aging star of rock and pop from trying to please his longtime fans while also seeking ways to assimilate himself into the current youth market. Years of Refusal, his latest offering, is filled with torment and suffering, though his self-pitying rants now come tempered with a dose of self-reflection. It isn’t until late in Years of Refusal that Morrissey scales back the bristling anguish of his assault. Even then, there is no relief. There is no question that Morrissey has rediscovered the fiery intensity of his days with The Smiths, and he has parlayed his urgency in the studio into his latest round of concert performances. The man known as Moz will perform material from Years of Refusal as well as numerous nuggets from his past at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee on April 3 and at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on April 4.
4/4 - Steve Earle / Allison Moorer - Old Town School - Chicago - 8:00 p
4/5 - Steve Earle / Allison Moorer - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p
On his latest endeavor Washington Square Serenade, Steve Earle toned down the inflammatory political rhetoric that had begun to alienate a portion of his audience. Around the same time, he also married fellow songwriter Allison Moorer, whose work not surprisingly has grown edgier. The husband-and-wife duo has been touring together of late, and in a sense, they have become the modern-day incarnation of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. On April 4 and 5, they will treat audiences at the Old Town School to an evening of protest songs and other assorted folk duets from their respective canons. Fans can also expect to hear a few tracks from Townes, Earle’s forthcoming tribute to legendary artist Townes Van Zandt.
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