Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee:
October 1-8, 2009

First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2009, Volume 16, #9

Written by John Metzger

Wed September 30, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT

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10/1 - Manic Street Preachers - Metro - Chicago - 7:30 p

Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers

Manic Street Preachers has one of the strangest stories in rock history. Just as the band was gearing up for an assault on American airwaves via the release of The Holy Bible — its bombastic, lyrically heavy third outing — Richey James Edwards vanished without a trace. Presumably, he committed suicide, but his body was never found. Consequently, he wasn’t officially declared dead until last November. In the meantime, Manic Street Preachers persevered, at least overseas, where it garnered a tangible amount of critical and commercial success. Nevertheless, its plans to conquer the U.S. market remained on hold. Four years ago, however, Legacy Recordings revived interest in the outfit by issuing an expanded edition of The Holy Bible. This, in turn, set the stage for Manic Street Preachers’ ninth endeavor Journal for Plague Lovers. Not only was the new collection produced by indie rock guru Steve Albini but it also contains lyrics that Edwards had penned just prior to his disappearance. With a lineup that still features founding members Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield, and Sean Moore, Manic Street Preachers will reintroduce itself to the Chicago area with a show at Metro on October 1.

Colbie Caillat - Breakthrough

10/5 - Colbie Caillat - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 7:00 p
10/7 - Colbie Caillat - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 7:00 p

Even before she issued her debut Coco, Colbie Caillat was being groomed to become a major star. Once the album’s first single Bubbly became a hit, her people merely redoubled their efforts to make sure they could capitalize upon their investment. Even so, it was a bold move for Caillat to title her sophomore set Breakthrough. Years from now, it either will be viewed as a pretentious misstep or the lynchpin to her success. Regardless, Caillat’s growth as an artist has been minimal. Instead, she steadfastly has adhered to the formula that launched her career. Breakthrough is filled with generic arrangements and mediocre songs that hardly make use of her talent as a vocalist. It is as safe, secure, and wholly uninteresting as white paint in a rental apartment. Without a doubt, Caillat will present pristine replications of her material when she performs on October 5 at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee and at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on October 7.

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

10/6 - Yo La Tengo - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

Forever a mainstay of the indie rock scene, Yo La Tengo will hold court at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on October 6. Nearly a quarter century after its formation, nothing has changed about the way in which the band approaches its art. Sometimes its music is sharp and spiky; at other moments, it is fragile and delicate. All of its albums, including its latest set Popular Songs, follow the same basic template, too. Much like the Velvet Underground, Yo La Tengo consistently alternates between baring and obfuscating its melodies. Likewise, the two outfits are equally prone to embarking upon abrasive, noise-rock excursions. At first glance, Popular Songs makes it appear as if Yo La Tengo has shifted its direction slightly. For a time, the album sounds like a modern-day response to the Velvet Underground’s Loaded. In the end, though, it turns out to be an elaborate setup for the final freak-out of All the Glitter Is Gone. In other words, much to the delight of Yo La Tengo’s adoring fans, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jethro Tull - The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull

10/6 - Ian Anderson - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
10/7 - Ian Anderson - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

These days, Jethro Tull most often is remembered for its hard-hitting, classic-rock staples Aqualung and Locomotive Breath. Every once in a while, however, Ian Anderson embarks upon an acoustic tour that reminds the world that his band also has a folk-oriented side. This is precisely the point behind his latest sojourn, which will stop at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on October 6 and Chicago’s Vic Theatre on October 7. Of course, the lack of amplification doesn’t necessarily mean that Anderson has softened his approach. In fact, based upon his previous acoustic excursions, Anderson likely won’t stray far from his tried-and-true selection of well-known songs as well as material that appeared on The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull. At the same time, though, Anderson also might offer fans a sneak peek at the solo album that he began recording two years ago.

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

10/8 - The Decemberists / Laura Veirs - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 7:00 p

In early August, on the eve of the Lollapalooza Festival, The Decemberists performed a special show at Metro in which it ran through a series of songs that were selected by its fans. The group’s appearance at the Riviera Theatre on October 8 will follow a different path. Replacing the spontaneity of its previous engagement with the focus of its Short Fazed Hovel tour, The Decemberists will deliver its latest endeavor The Hazards of Love in its entirety, followed by an assortment of older tunes. Frequent collaborator Laura Veirs is providing support for The Decemberists’ latest sojourn. This past summer, Veirs unveiled The Hall of Flames, her new backing band. She and her collective likely will emphasize tracks from her latest full-length outing Saltbreakers. Her new EP Two Beers Veirs introduces a handful of other intriguing possibilities, such as Elizabeth Cotton’s Freight Train and Mississippi John Hurt’s Spike Driver’s Blues.

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Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 24-30, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 14-23, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 8-13, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: August 25-September 7, 2009

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: August 18-24, 2009

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