Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee:
November 2-9, 2009
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2009, Volume 16, #10
Written by John Metzger
Thu October 29, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
11/2 - Roger Daltrey - House of Blues - Chicago - 7:30 p
Roger Daltrey’s track record as a solo artist has been somewhat sketchy. Even his self-titled debut from 1973, which largely is considered the best of the bunch, is a hit-and-miss affair. Try as he might, Daltrey often has found it impossible to escape his subservience to Pete Townshend’s material. Reportedly, The Who is planning to return to the recording studio sometime next year. Meanwhile, Daltrey is trying to keep his voice in shape by embarking upon his first tour without the band since 1985. The good news is that this time he isn’t planning on running away from his legacy. Although he will dip into his solo canon and deliver a selection of well-chosen cover tunes, he also has promised to lean heavily upon The Who’s storied repertoire. Daltrey will rearrange the material, of course. He also will be bringing Simon Townshend, Pete’s younger brother, along for assistance. Considering the intimate environment of Chicago’s House of Blues, Daltrey’s performance on November 2 ought to be riveting and intense.
11/3 - Matisyahu - House of Blues - Chicago - 7:00 p
Four years ago, Matisyahu was an omnipresent force, though he achieved this level of recognition for his approach rather than his talent. The problem with hype is that it eventually dissipates. Although his initial idea of intertwining Jewish spiritualism with island grooves was brilliant, he never managed to back his wide-sweeping publicity campaign with anything substantive. Live at Stubb’s and his studio debut Youth were half-baked affairs that limited his growth. As a result, Matisyahu never managed to rise above his status as a novelty act. On his latest endeavor Light, Matisyahu takes a stab at infiltrating the field of pop. A few tracks on the collection — We Will Walk and One Day, among them — could be considered minor successes. Overall, however, Matisyahu still seems to be struggling to find the words and grooves that will captivate anyone outside the jam and reggae scenes to which he typically plays.
11/6 - The Black Crowes - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
11/7 - The Black Crowes - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Judging from its latest offering Before the Frost, there has never been a better time to see The Black Crowes in concert. The ensemble has settled down considerably since its days of bashing out its boisterous brand of southern rock and soul. When necessary, it can still charge full-steam ahead, though it also has learned to show some restraint. Although it still has a tendency to formulate a pastiche of ’70s styles, The Black Crowes has never sounded more vibrant and alive. In true, jam-band fashion, the ensemble typically alters its set list from night to night, though it also has its frequent touchstones. Before the Frost — as well as its digital counterpart Until the Freeze — are providing The Black Crowes with a wealth of fresh avenues to explore. As a result, the outfit’s concerts at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on November 6 and Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater in November 7 will be its most interesting local gigs in ages.
11/7 - The Sounds - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
Five years ago, The Sounds was being pitched as the band that was going to reignite the New Wave movement. For what it’s worth, the outfit’s debut Living in America featured an appealing blast of energetic, synth-fueled pop tunes that showed that the group had a lot of heart and soul, if nothing else. Ever since, though, The Sounds has been floundering. Neither Dying to Say This to You nor its latest set Crossing the Rubicon succeeded in moving its agenda forward, largely because the collective steadfastly refused to look past its ’80s influences for inspiration. Still, there’s an infectiousness to its output, which makes it easy to understand why The Sounds has amassed a modest following on this side of the Atlantic. Arguably, the ensemble’s concerts are more immediate than its albums. Those looking to escape the trials and tribulations of the work day might find that The Sounds’ appearance at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on November 7 is the perfect antidote.
11/8 - Jill Sobule / Erin McKeown - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p
The performance space at Chicago’s Old Town School is acoustically so perfect and intimate that every concert that is held there is something special. The venue’s ambience compels audiences to pay the utmost respect to the artists and their music. Many legends have graced the venue’s stage since the institution moved to its current location in 1998. Nevertheless, the Old Town School’s true calling still stems from the opportunities that it provides to lesser-known but equally talented acts, many of whom otherwise would be forced to compete with clinking glasses and endless chatter at Chicago’s small clubs.
In the midst of a full-fledged fall tour, Jill Sobule and Erin McKeown will stop at the Old Town School on November 8. Both artists have found unique ways of maintaining their independence, wielding their outsider status as a badge of honor. Sobule’s latest set California Years was funded entirely by her fans, who leant her money in exchange for an assortment of gifts that ranged from a copy of the album to a chance to appear on it. Meanwhile, McKeown staged a series of concerts via the internet to raise the money that she needed to record her latest endeavor Hundreds of Lions. The roads are filled with thousands of songwriters demanding to be heard. Sobule and McKeown are among the few who actually deserve more attention than they typically have received.
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