Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
September 11-15, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2010, Volume 17, #9
Written by John Metzger
Thu September 9, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
9/11 - Donald Fagen / Michael McDonald / Boz Scaggs - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
The union of Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs isn’t meant to be merely a nostalgic romp through their hits from the 1970s. Instead, it is a collaborative venture designed to highlight their collective influences. Originally conceived in the early 1990s, the group — which is being billed as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue — is planning to explore a broader range of material than it did in its first incarnation. Naturally, selected tracks from Fagen’s, McDonald’s, and Scaggs’ repertoires will form the touchstones for their two-hour concerts. Nevertheless, the bulk of the songs will be interpreted works, plucked from the annals of rock history. Everything from Ray Charles’ I’ve Got News for You and David Ruffin’s My Whole World Ended to cuts by The Band, Chuck Berry, and The Beach Boys is on the table. The Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street, which Fagen has played while participating in Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble, might turn up in their sets, too. Fagen, McDonald, and Scaggs will provide a fun-filled evening at the Chicago Theatre on September 11.
9/11 - Chris Smither - S.P.A.C.E - Evanston - 8:00 p
Last year, Chris Smither suffered his usual fate: His latest set Time Stands Still was one of the best albums of 2009. Yet, it largely went unnoticed by the record-buying public. Such is the life of a troubadour who unfailingly chooses substance over flashiness. Although his endeavors are wholly captivating, they also are such low-key affairs that their magic and beauty are easy to miss. By the very nature of his work, Smither needs to be heard in an intimate venue, where his subtle approach won’t be lost amidst the din of clinking glasses and mindless chatter. Therefore, Smither’s appearance at Evanston’s S.P.A.C.E. on September 11 is a must-see event for those looking to become better acquainted with his remarkable repertoire.
9/13 - Jenny Lewis / Johnathan Rice - Lincoln Hall - Chicago - 8:00 p
Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice haven’t tied the knot just yet, but they do seem to be heading in this direction. Swimming in the same musical circles for several years, they increasingly have married their creative output. Lewis, for example, made an appearance on Rice’s 2007 set Further North. Last year, Rice returned the favor. Not only did he contribute material to Lewis’ sophomore solo outing Acid Tongue, but he also produced the affair. Released on August 31, I’m Having Fun Now is their full-fledged collaborative debut. Its title likely alludes to the issues that plagued Lewis’ work with Rilo Kiley during the sessions for Under the Blacklight. At the very least, she and Rice sound liberated, now that they have started to push beyond the albums and songs that have defined them. When they perform together at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on September 13, Lewis and Rice will emphasize selections from I’m Having Fun Now, though revamped tunes from their solo canons as well as a few well-chosen cover songs aren’t out of the question.
9/13 - Pavement - Jay Pritzker Pavilion - Chicago - 7:00 p
9/14 - Pavement - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
For much of its existence, the problem with Pavement has been that it just didn’t care about the kind of experience it provided to its audience. The group never rehearsed, and its shows were scattered, uneven, and downright sloppy. Pavement probably could have gotten away with taking the same attitude toward its current reunion tour. After all, its adoring fans — which have continued to grow steadily over the past decade —would have purchased every last ticket regardless of the band’s flaws. Instead, though, Pavement took the situation seriously, locking itself away to prepare for the rigors of the road, perhaps hoping to shed the one criticism that has dogged the outfit since its early days. The strategy seems to have worked, too, as Pavement has received enormous amounts of praise for its career-spanning sets. Returning to the area just a few weeks after its high-profile appearance at Lollapalooza, Pavement will perform at Chicago’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion on September 13 and Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on September 14.
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