Local Concert Preview for Chicago & Milwaukee:
May 1-7, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2009, Volume 16, #4
Written by John Metzger
Wed April 29, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
5/1 - Willy Porter and His Band - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
5/2 - Willy Porter and His Band - Martyrs - Chicago - 9:00 p
Success in the music business often has more to do with timing than talent. Willy Porter, for example, once seemed primed for a major breakthrough after his sophomore set Dog Eared Dream garnered a great deal of commercial attention along the corridor that connects Chicago to Milwaukee. In subsequent years, as radio stations across the country tightened the reach of their playlists, he was left by the wayside. Fortunately, this hasnít stopped Porterís creative spirit. He always was a phenomenal guitarist with a knack for rhythm and melody, and over time, he increasingly has shown tremendous poise and maturity in his lyrics. Porterís latest outing How to Rob a Bank is slated for release on June 2, and fans can expect to hear at least a few tunes from the new endeavor when he performs at Milwaukeeís Pabst Theater on May 1 and Chicagoís Martyrs on May 2.
5/2-3 - Old 97s - Cubby Bear - Chicago - 9:00 p
Balancing two viable bands is no easy feat. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Rhett Miller has managed to do ever since he established himself as a solo artist outside the scope of his primary outfit Old 97s. The reason why he opted to make this move is anyoneís guess. After all, the group hardly placed any sort of limitation upon his stylistic reach. Although its output largely is considered to be a part of the alt-country oeuvre, Old 97s has dabbled in everything from power pop to British Invasion-fueled fare. Millerís solo efforts have covered similar ground, too, albeit with a little more sparkle in the finish. Even as he readies his latest project, an eponymous endeavor, for release on June 9, he is wrapping up a final series of shows with Old 97s, including a date at the Cubby Bear on May 2 and 3.
5/4-5 - The Dead - Allstate Arena - Rosemont - 7:30 p
Itís hard to know what to expect from The Dead. Since the passing of Jerry Garcia, the groupís on-again, off-again status has made it terribly difficult to build any sort of momentum. It helps considerably that Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart have a rapport that has become well established. The addition of keyboard player Jeff Chimenti (who frequently hangs with Weir) and guitarist Warren Haynes (who served an extended stint in Leshís band), however, typically tinkers with their pre-existing chemistry. Although The Deadís performances have been somewhat uneven, they have had more than their share of highlights. There also is no denying the fact that now that the group has pared down its size and settled upon a line-up, it is delivering some of its best shows since Garcia was in its midst. Fans can expect to hear at least a few surprises when The Dead performs at the Allstate Arena on May 4 and 5, especially since the latter night will serve as the regionís best Cinco de Mayo celebration.
5/5-6 - Leonard Cohen - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
Despite a dearth of new material and even fewer public appearances in the past two decades, Leonard Cohen has parlayed his cult-figure status into something far more iconic. The renewed interest in his work has been sparked by interpretations of his songs by a range of younger artists, from Jeff Buckley to Jason Castro. At the same time, Cohen also has benefited from a series of high-profile reissues of his early albums as well as his long-anticipated induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Consequently, when he returned to the stage last spring for the first time in 15 years, he was greeted by such massive crowds that his shows sold out in mere minutes. Although he will perform two concerts at the Chicago Theatre on May 5 and 6, there arenít any tickets left, at least at reasonable prices. Therefore, those on a tight budget might be better off investing in Cohenís new DVD Live in London, which features his complete set at the O2 Arena from July 2008. Hopefully, his return to the stage will be permanent rather than temporary.
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