Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee
April 23-28, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2010, Volume 17, #4
Written by John Metzger
Fri April 23, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
4/23 - Pat Green - House of Blues - Chicago - 8:30 p
Pat Green’s big breakthrough came in 1998 when he was selected to perform at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic. Green took the ball and ran with it, never looking back. He was making waves before he even joined the major-label system, and although only one of his albums (2003’s Wave on Wave) has been certified gold, his subsequent efforts have never failed to climb Billboard’s country and pop charts. In the process, Green has amassed a merry band of devoted followers who hang on his every word. His latest set What I’m For strives to bring all of the aspects of his persona together in one place. Unfortunately, Green’s lyrics often miss their mark, and his recorded music never achieves the intensity of his concerts. Of course, this won’t stop his fans from packing Chicago’s House of Blues for his show on April 23. Odds are that Green will use his charm, wit, and talent to overcome his deficiencies.
4/23 - Mark Knopfler - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
4/24 - Mark Knopfler - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Long ago, Mark Knopfler learned to follow his own lead in the recording studio. On stage, however, he remains firmly entrenched in a populist mind-set. Unfortunately, this approach is sometimes detrimental to his performances. For certain, it is not an easy choice for an artist to forsake his most familiar material. If too many key cuts are skipped, the fans simply stop showing up. Although he always has incorporated newer fare into his repertoire, Knopfler also never wavered from trudging through the tried-and-true tracks from his back catalog — Romeo & Juliet, Speedway at Nazareth, So Far Away, and Sultans of Swing, among them. Considering that he often appears to be quite tired of tackling these tunes, Knopfler would be better off if he retired them, at least temporarily, choosing instead to rework some of his other equally worthy compositions. When Knopfler performs at the Chicago Theatre on April 23 and Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on April 24, he likely will waltz through his usual routine, which means that the most inspired moments will occur whenever he dips into his latest set Get Lucky as well as his previous endeavor Kill to Get Crimson.
4/24 - Amos Lee - Turner Hall Ballroom - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
4/26 - Amos Lee / Tift Merritt - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 8:00 p
After Norah Jones conquered the music industry with her debut Come Away with Me, her label Blue Note immediately began to search for her successor. Jones picked Amos Lee herself, and she, along with her backing band, helped him to record his self-titled debut. Her involvement gave Lee a much-needed boost of attention, and the former elementary school teacher soon found himself touring the country in support of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. In the intervening years, Lee has often seemed uncomfortable with his new position, and his awkwardness sometimes played a role in inhibiting his growth. For his most recent effort Last Days at the Lodge, Lee tapped industry veteran Don Was for assistance. Was quickly assembled an all-star cast of session men, including Spooner Oldham, Pino Palladino, and Doyle Bramhall, Jr., and they proceeded to scuff up the edges of Lee’s typically soft-spoken material. Lee will perform an array of selections from the endeavor when he performs at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom on April 24. Two nights later, fellow songwriter Tift Merritt will join him for a show at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall.
4/24-25 - B.B. King - House of Blues - Chicago - 8:00 p
B.B. King may have stopped encircling the globe, but he hardly has curtailed his tour schedule. With striking regularity, the 84-year-old blues icon has been crisscrossing the country in support of his latest outing One Kind Favor. While it’s true that, on stage, King now cedes a greater share of the spotlight to his accompanists than he once did, he still pours his heart and soul into his vocals. Likewise, his guitar solos may be more concise, but they still pack a considerable emotional wallop. There are times when King delves into mourning and heartache, but more frequently, he uses the blues format as a way of celebrating life. On April 24 and 25, he’ll perform in the relatively intimate confines of House of Blues, making his latest visit to Chicago difficult to resist.
4/26 - Jakob Dylan / Neko Case / Kelly Hogan - Park West - Chicago - 7:30 p
4/28 - Jakob Dylan / Neko Case / Kelly Hogan - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
With the economy continuing to chug along at a rather sluggish pace, it is challenging to get music fans to leave their homes and part with their hard-earned cash. Jakob Dylan deserves credit for finding a solution to the problem. He already had enlisted Neko Case and Kelly Hogan to help him craft his sophomore solo set Women and Country, which was issued earlier this month. Therefore, it’s only logical that he would invite them to join him on his latest trek from coast-to-coast. Case’s Middle Cyclone was certainly one of the musical highlights of last year, and although Hogan’s own recording career has never really caught fire, she remains a magnificent vocalist who has worked with Case, John Wesley Harding, and the Indigo Girls. As for Dylan, when he and his entourage perform at Chicago’s Park West on April 26 and Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on April 28, he will showcase plenty of material from his new album as well as some modestly modified selections from Seeing Things.
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