Local Concert Preview for Chicago
April 15-22, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2010, Volume 17, #4
Written by John Metzger
Wed April 14, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
4/15 - Elton John - Sears Centre - Hoffman Estates - 8:00 p
Elton John was supposed to hit the road with Billy Joel again this summer. At the last minute, however, plans for a concert at Wrigley Field were scuttled when Joel announced that he was taking the year off. In February, John expressed his disappointment while plugging the Chicago premiere of Billy Elliot, a musical based on the 2000 film, for which he wrote the score. In the meantime, John also announced plans for a relaxed, 10-date spring tour with his full band, which will stop at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on April 15. He has yet to craft the successor to his 2006 set The Captain & The Kid, which many fans and critics considered his best album since the mid-1970s. Oddly enough, though, John has been ignoring material from the endeavor, opting instead to deliver a hits-heavy performance.
4/15 - The Church - Park West - Chicago - 8:00 p
Under the Milky Way, a finely crafted pop gem that shook college radio stations and then the Billboard Top 40 in 1984, is The Church’s lone claim to fame in America. Last year, the outfit quietly trekked across the country in support of its latest set Untitled #23. Yet, the real proof that the collective is attempting to regain its commercial footing was provided by the prominent usage of Under the Milky Way in an automobile commercial. Continuing its resurgence, The Church is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an acoustic tour that will stop at Chicago’s Park West on April 15. Throughout the show, the group will trace an arc through the entirety of its discography, beginning with its latest endeavor and ending with material from its influential debut Of Skins and Heart. As an added bonus, attendees of the concert will receive a pair of souvenirs: a 24-page program guide as well as copy of Deadman’s Hand. The latter artifact is an EP that, in addition to its title track, features several previously unreleased selections that were culled from the outfit’s archives.
4/19-21 - Ben Folds - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
In the 1990s, Ben Folds often received more attention for his smart-ass outlook than he did for his serious compositions. Even after Brick became a hit — the tune was a somber song about the strain that an abortion can have upon a relationship — most fans expected him to maintain his rambunctious and sometimes adolescently comical stage demeanor.
Folds tried his best to please the audience, but the performances he gave with Ben Folds Five increasingly felt as if they were weighed down by gimmicks. To escape from the constraints of his routine, Folds opted to disband the group and embark upon a solo career. Yet, in spite of the promising aspects of Rockin’ the Suburbs — of which there were many — he soon found himself struggling to survive in an industry that was crumbling around him.
Not surprisingly, Folds took a hiatus, moved to Australia, and started a family. He has surfaced from time to time over the past nine years, quietly releasing a series of EPs, which eventually were compiled on Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP. He also has added two full-length albums to his canon (Songs for Silverman, Way to Normal), and he has compiled an unusual retrospective for which an array of college a cappella groups interpreted his work. Folds will draw from the full range of his career when he performs a trio of solo shows at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on April 19, 20, and 21.
4/22 - Corinne Bailey Rae - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
In an industry where success is increasingly difficult to achieve, especially for newcomers, Corinne Bailey Rae scored a runaway hit with her self-titled debut. Her victory wasn’t easy, but with unwavering perseverance, she managed to make it pay. Two years later, however, the glow that had surrounded Rae suddenly vanished when her husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, passed away unexpectedly. The Sea, her latest set, leans heavily upon her subsequent experiences. The act of crafting the endeavor undeniably was part of Rae’s personal healing process, and in effect, she fashioned her emotional upheaval into The Sea’s remarkably moving tapestry. There is as much hope as there is pain contained within its tracks. Although Rae may have been forced to deal with some heavy issues for which she wasn’t prepared, she also discovered a path to her maturation as an artist. Rae might lean heavily on her new material when she performs at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on April 22, but instead of being a glum performance, the show will be a celebration of her husband’s life.
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