Local Concert Preview for Chicago:
August 18-24, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2009, Volume 16, #8
Written by John Metzger
Fri August 14, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
8/18 - Pretenders / Cat Power / Juliette Lewis - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
No one should ever count out the Pretenders. Although the group occasionally has lost its way, largely by toning down its rebelliousness in favor of streamlined, pop-rock fare, Chrissie Hynde has never failed to bring her ensemble back from the brink of its own self-destructive tendencies. With this in mind, last year’s Break Up the Concrete was more than just a solidly constructed return-to-form for the band. It also was a full-bore rejuvenation of good, old-fashioned rock ’n‘ roll that was spiced with an abundance of country-imbued twang. Over the years, the Pretenders has never faltered in concert either, regardless of the quality of the material it was trying to promote. There’s no reason to expect anything less when the outfit steps into the Vic Theatre on August 18. Chan Marshall, otherwise known as Cat Power, has joined the Pretenders for the bulk of its latest tour in hopes of previewing her new compositions. Marshall has had her share of issues since she emerged on the music scene in the mid-1990s, but lately she has settled down to become a more reliable performer. Whether Juliette Lewis, who also is on the bill, can cause the fault line to shift is anyone’s guess, though the fact that her new album Terra Incognita is due in September is an indication that she’ll be on her best behavior.
8/21-22 - Bonnie Raitt / Taj Mahal - Ravinia - Highland Park - 7:30 p
It’s highly unlikely that Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal will need much time to get acclimated to each other’s ways. Nevertheless, the duo’s chemistry ought to be in fine form by the time they arrive at Ravinia for a pair of concerts on August 21 and 22. Billed as BonTaj Roulet, Raitt and Mahal will deliver solo sets each night, followed by lengthy encores that are filled with collaborations. Raitt is long overdue for a new album. Recently was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Mahal is continuing to support Maestro, which he issued last fall. Considering the stylistic breadth of their respective canons, almost anything is possible during these performances. Both artists have had a tendency to use the stage as a platform for raising social issues, and not surprisingly, a portion of the proceeds from their sojourn will be donated to charity. In other words, fans will be able to bring some light to those who need it most while also enjoying an intense evening of blues-based music.
8/23-24 - Pearl Jam - United Center - Chicago - 7:30 p
The United Center isn’t built for concerts. Those fans who are stuck sitting in the upper deck frequently are left to feel as if they are witnessing, rather than participating in, the events that are held at the arena. Pearl Jam, however, is one of the few acts that consistently has overcome the venue’s severe limitations and connected with every seat in the house. The group’s latest effort Backspacer isn’t due for release until September 22. Nevertheless, it already has hit the road as well as the talk-show circuit in order to drum up interest and support for the endeavor. Considering that Pearl Jam is forgoing the major-label system, there’s much more at stake this time, but having learned a lesson from its losing battle with Ticketmaster, the outfit hasn’t completely severed its ties to the corporate world. Not only has Pearl Jam signed an exclusive, big-box retail agreement with Target, but much to the chagrin of its followers, it also shot a commercial for the store. Such concessions are an unfortunate part of reality these days, and Pearl Jam ought to be given some slack since it’s doubtful that the collective’s artistic vision has been compromised.
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