Local Concert Preview for Chicago
March 24-31, 2010

First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2010, Volume 17, #3

Written by John Metzger

Wed March 24, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT


Air - Love 2

3/24 - Air - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p

After the release of Pocket Symphony in 2007, Air faced an enormous challenge. Essentially, founding members Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin had to decide how to present their ambitious project in a concert setting. Touring with a full band is not always cost-effective, and as a result, the duo sometimes opted to create minimalist interpretations of its new material, with drummer Joey Waronker providing their only support. This collaboration bore additional fruit, too. Waronker was re-enlisted to help Air craft its latest endeavor Love 2, the first album that the group recorded in its new studio. The collection undeniably requires some patience, but with time, the gracefulness of its melodies and the intricacies of its arrangements are revealed. The primary knock against Air is that the outfit barely acknowledges its audience during its live performances. Regardless, with music that is so fragile and atmospheric, there is little choice but to fade into the background and let the songs stand on their own. Air will attempt to capture the intimacy of Love 2 when it performs at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on March 24.

Rickie Lee Jones - Balm in Gilead

3/25 - Rickie Lee Jones - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 8:00 p

It is rather unfortunate that Chuck E’s in Love became such an enormous hit for Rickie Lee Jones. Although the song’s success brought her a wealth of attention and turned her career into a sustainable venture, it also has overshadowed everything else that Jones has accomplished. Like Joni Mitchell, to whom she often is compared, Jones has refused to stand still. Instead, she has tackled standards, explored jazz, and dabbled in synth-driven pop. Released last fall, Jones’ latest set Balm in Gilead is being heralded as a return to her roots, even as it simultaneously manages to sidestep such comparisons. The passage of three decades can certainly refine one’s perspective, and not surprisingly, Jones now sounds a little older, wiser, and more self-reflective than she once did. Jones will perform material from Balm in Gilead at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on March 25, and perhaps, she will also pay homage to Vic Chesnutt, who contributed to two tracks on the affair but died shortly after it was released.

Habib Koite & Bamada - Afriki

3/27 - Habib Koite & Bamada - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p

The Old Town School of Folk Music’s Spring Festival of African Music began in February with performances by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bela Fleck’s Africa Project, and Tinariwen. Following a four-week break, the event continues with a two-show appearance by Habib Koite & Bamada on March 27. Not only is Koite part of the Malian musical uprising that has taken place in recent years, but he also is one of the most popular musicians to emerge from the African continent. He first gained attention in the West more than a decade ago when Bonnie Raitt began widely singing his praises. On his latest set Afriki, Koite continues to blur the lines between rock ’n‘ roll and traditional African fare, lacing his tribal grooves with melodic guitar solos in ways that jam-band fans ought to appreciate.

Dan Wilson - Free Life

3/27 - Dan and Matt Wilson - Schuba's - Chicago - 7:30 p & 10:00 p

It probably is too soon to tell if the latest collaboration between brothers Matt and Dan Wilson will have staying power. When they visit Schuba’s in Chicago for a pair of performances on March 27, they will have performed only one other show as a duo, and it will have occurred on the preceding evening in their hometown of Minneapolis. Over the past few months, Dan Wilson has been busy writing new material, and he almost certainly will commingle a few of these tunes with tracks from his solo set Free Life as well as old standbys from his days with Semisonic. Meanwhile, Matt Wilson will draw upon his own pursuits (Burnt, White & Blue and The Twilight Hours’ Stereo Night). Nevertheless, the real highlights for longtime fans of the Wilsons might come when the siblings venture into their past to revisit their work in Trip Shakespeare, which was an alt-rock staple of the Midwest music scene two decades ago.


Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: March 16-23, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago: March 4-15, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: February 26-March 3, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: February 17-25, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: March 22-31, 2009


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