Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee:
October 17-24, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2009, Volume 16, #10
Written by John Metzger
Fri October 16, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
10/18-19 - Wilco - UIC Pavilion - Chicago - 7:30 p
These days, quite a few bands have been reacquainting themselves with classic albums from their past. Others, however, have followed a slightly more ambitious path. Wilco belongs to the latter camp. In February 2008, the outfit settled into Chicagoís Riviera Theatre for a five-night engagement, during which it proceeded to plunder its vaults and perform as many songs from its back catalogue as it possibly could. This sort of retrospective outlook is rare for such a relatively young band to take, especially one that has been in a constant state of evolution ever since it issued its country-imbued debut A.M. in 1995. In the end, this tactic served two purposes: First and foremost, it spawned the career-spanning music on Wilco (The Album). It also made it clear that any tune is fair game at one of the groupís concerts. Since issuing its seventh studio set, Wilco has tightened up its set list considerably. Hereís hoping that the outfit will relax the reigns at least a little bit in front of a hometown crowd.
10/21 - Yonder Mountain String Band - The Rave - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
10/23-24 - Yonder Mountain String Band - House of Blues - Chicago - 8:00 p
In 2006, Yonder Mountain String Band enlisted the help of industry veteran Tom Rothrock to produce its self-titled debut for Vanguard. The resulting endeavor found the outfit squarely targeting the pop-rock market, which caused many fans to worry about its plans for the future.
In hindsight, however, maybe Vanguard really wasnít to blame for Yonder Mountain String Bandís sudden decision to shift away from its bluegrass-oriented roots. Although it has resumed its independent identity, the collective turned, once again ó presumably of its own accord ó to Rothrock for assistance in creating its latest outing The Show. To its credit, tracks such as Dreams strike a more comfortable pose by drawing the bandís variegated acoustic textures through the sonic framework of classic acts like The Byrds and Neil Young. Nevertheless, there also is nothing particularly striking about The Show as a whole. It may go down easy, but its contents arenít particularly memorable.
Fortunately, Yonder Mountain String Band remains a formidable force in concert, where it spices the proceedings with an assortment of well-chosen cover songs. In addition to cuts from the likes of Talking Heads (Girlfriend Is Better), The Beatles (Only a Northern Song), and Jerry Garcia (Reuben and Cherise), the ensemble will be seeking to expand upon ó and inject some life into ó its latest batch of material when it performs at The Rave in Milwaukee on October 21 and House of Blues in Chicago on October 23 and 24.
10/23 - Marcia Ball/Bettye LaVette/Maria Muldaur - College of Lake County - Grayslake - 8:00 p
10/24 - Marcia Ball/Bettye LaVette/Maria Muldaur - College of DuPage - Glen Ellyn - 8:00 p
Some artists do their best work in recording studios while others feel more comfortable in live settings. Although she has a string of consistently pleasant if not entirely groundbreaking endeavors to her credit ó including last yearís satisfying set Peace, Love & BBQ ó Marcia Ball falls squarely into the latter camp. In concert, she routinely feeds off the energy of her adoring fans, and she pours all of it back into her emotional, piano-pounding performances.
On her latest trek through town, Ball is anchoring Sisters in Soul, a show that also features legendary vocalist Bettye LaVette and Greenwich Village graduate Maria Muldaur. The trio will take the stage at the College of Lake County in Grayslake on October 23 and the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn on October 24. The ambience of these venues might be refined, but Ball, LaVette, and Muldaur likely will make them feel like Bourbon street bars or Texas roadhouses.
10/23 - Los Lonely Boys - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
10/24 - Los Lonely Boys - Northern Lights Theater - Milwaukee - 9:00 p
Los Lonely Boys has always had a lot of potential. The groupís career took off so fast, however, that it became swept up in the madness of its endless Grammy appearances and other high-profile engagements. Now that it no longer is the fad of the moment, Los Lonely Boys is taking steps toward regaining its artistic credibility. In this regard, the ensemble has gone acoustic for its latest sojourn. The intimate atmosphere will allow the band not only to emphasize its musical approach but also to reconnect with its fans. Los Lonely Boys wonít run away from performing hits like Heaven and Diamonds, but it will pepper its shows with cover songs from the likes of Santana (Evil Ways), The Doors (Roadhouse Blues), and Blind Faith (Well All Right). The band might not manage to make another multi-platinum album, but at least it sounds like it once again is having a good time.
10/24 - Brian Wilson - Pabst Theatre - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Since returning to the stage at the tail-end of the 1990s, Brian Wilson has been trying to resurrect his floundering solo career. Nevertheless, most of the attention he receives continues to be for his Beach Boys-oriented projects. Not only did he complete Smile, the opus he had abandoned in the late 1960s, but he also has devoted entire tours to replicating music from the endeavor as well as its predecessor Pet Sounds.
Last fall, Wilson issued his latest set That Lucky Old Sun. Although it indisputably is one of the better outings in his solo canon, he has decided not to fight against the tide. His latest trek is designed to give his fans exactly what they want to hear. Rather than emphasizing material from the new album, Wilson will focus on his astounding catalogue of hits. He remains a rather rigid performer on stage, but while he is delivering songs like I Get Around, California Girls, and Good Vibrations, itís doubtful that anyone among his devoted followers will care.
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