Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
July 25-31, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2010, Volume 17, #7
Written by John Metzger
Thu July 22, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
7/25 - Joan Armatrading - House of Blues - Chicago - 8:00 p
Joan Armatrading is best known for penning sophisticated fare that brings together elements of folk, reggae, and soul. With this in mind, her latest set This Charming Life might take a few folks by surprise. With a swagger in her step, Armatrading confidently puts a charge into her new material. For the record, This Charming Life isn’t her first diversion into straight-ahead rock ’n‘ roll. In the early 1980s, Armatrading jumped onto the new-wave bandwagon, temporarily toughening her approach on outings like Walk under Ladders and The Key. Fortunately, the songs on This Charming Life seemed destined to age in a far more graceful fashion. Nevertheless, if there ever was a time for Armatrading to rework selections from her earlier endeavors, this is it. Therefore, her performance at Chicago’s House of Blues on July 25 ought to highlight different aspects of her canon than fans typically are accustomed to seeing.
7/28 - Keane / Ingrid Michaelson / Fran Healy - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:00 p
The music business is not always fair to artists. Travis initially appeared to be the heir apparent to Radiohead and U2, but when the group faltered, it was Coldplay and Keane that arrived to pick up the pieces. It didn’t matter that both of these outfits emerged by embracing, rather than altering, the status quo. Fans gobbled up the infectious, if straightforward fare that Coldplay and Keane had to offer. Unlike Coldplay, Keane hasn’t yet managed to rise to the level of performing in Chicago’s mammoth outdoor amphitheaters, but with Perfect Symmetry, Keane at least has shown that it has staying power. The band’s latest set Night Train is an eight-track collection of material that it had crafted in a variety of recording studios while on tour during the past year. When Keane returns to the Chicago area on July 28 for a show at the Chicago Theatre, it will be joined by singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson as well as kindred spirit Fran Healy, the driving force behind Travis.
7/29 - The Dead Weather - The Rave - Milwaukee - 7:30 p
7/30 - The Dead Weather - Congress Theater - Chicago - 8:00 p
Perhaps the best things about Jack White are that he not only perseveres until he achieves his desired results, but that he also knows when to put a project to rest. The White Stripes really had reached its zenith, and without outside influences to alter the collective’s approach, there was nowhere for the ensemble to go but down. White deftly determined that the best method to avoid falling into a routine was to scuttle The White Stripes and diversify his brand through an array of other projects. With its debut Horehound, The Dead Weather got off to a rocky start. Nevertheless, the outfit left so much potential on the table that the allure of creating a sequel likely proved to be too great to resist. Sea of Cowards won’t sway nonbelievers, but it is a step in the right direction for the band. At this point, though, The Dead Weather’s songs still fare best in person, where their edgy blues-rock constructs can thrash an audience into complete submission. The Dead Weather will perform at The Rave in Milwaukee on July 29 and the Congress Theater in Chicago on July 30.
7/30 - Tift Merritt - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 9:00 p
7/31 - Tift Merritt - Shank Hall - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
Over the past eight years, Tift Merritt has quietly assembled a superb sequence of albums that have run the gamut from the country textures of Bramble Rose to the soulful essence of Tambourine to the gentle pop of Another Country. As diverse has her output has been, however, Merritt deftly has navigated the transitions, thereby making each effort sound like an extension of its predecessor. Her genre-jumping strategy may have been part of a designed attempt to discover her own voice. In the process of moving from one place to the next, though, she likely realized that everything she had been seeking was right in front of her nose. With this in mind, Merritt’s latest set See You on the Moon doesn’t push her forward like her previous outings have done. Instead, it nestles comfortably alongside them, wrapping everything together with a tidy little bow. Merritt is in the midst of a national tour to support See You on the Moon, but she’ll toss selections from the full scope of her career into her performances at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on July 30 and Milwaukee’s Shank Hall on July 31.
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