Chicago Concert Preview
October 8-14, 2010

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2010, Volume 17, #10

Written by John Metzger

Thu October 7, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT

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Michael Franti & Spearhead - The Sound of Sunshine

10/8 - Michael Franti & Spearhead - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p

For most bands, it takes a long time to feel comfortable performing in arenas and amphitheaters. Few outfits truly are ever able to make them feel intimate. Michael Franti & Spearhead has long called the summer festival circuit its home, and there, it has amassed a small, but dedicated following that routinely gravitates to the groupís off-season shows in small theaters. With his recent stint supporting John Mayer, Franti has shown that large venues will never pose a problem for his ensemble, though the bigger issue he faces is attracting enough fans to fill them on his own. On the 2008 set All Rebel Rockers, Michael Franti & Spearhead took steps toward streamlining its approach, polishing its consciousness-raising material for mass acceptance. Frantiís latest endeavor The Sound of Sunshine goes even further, turning his reliance on old-school rhythms into an engaging formula. Michael Franti & Spearhead has always been better on stage than it is in the studio, though. Its show at Chicagoís Riviera Theatre on October 8 is certain to address an array of socio-political issues in a joyously uplifting fashion.

Suzanne Vega - Close-Up, Volume 2: People & Places

10/8 - Suzanne Vega - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
10/9 - Suzanne Vega - Fermilab Arts Series/Wilson Hall - Batavia - 8:00 p

Suzanne Vega is a fiercely independent artist, and she tends to follow nobodyís schedule but her own. Beauty & Crime, her most recent set of new material, was issued in 2007, and Vega currently has no plans to succeed her career-best recording, which reflected upon the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy and the impact it had upon the city she calls home. Instead, Vega has opted to re-evaluate the entirety of her career by arranging her songs for stripped-down, acoustic performances and categorizing them by theme. Earlier this year, Vega issued Close Up, Vol. 1: Love Songs. Over the course of the next few months, she is planning to add three additional collections to the series: People & Places; States of Being; and Songs of Family. Vegaís retrospective outlook serves as the motivation for her current tour, which will stop for a pair of concerts at Chicagoís Old Town School on October 8 as well as a show at Fermilabís Wilson Hall in Batavia on October 9.

Nick Lowe - Quiet Please: The New Best of Nick Lowe

10/9 - Nick Lowe - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:30 p
10/10 - Nick Lowe - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p

Save for his early hit Cruel to Be Kind, Nick Lowe is best known for collaborating with Dave Edmunds in Rockpile and for lending (Whatís So Funny íBout) Peace, Love and Understanding to Elvis Costello. In other words, although he has continued to craft critically successful endeavors, Loweís commercial peak occurred roughly 30 years ago. Over the past decade, Lowe quietly has broadened his style by giving more room to the soul, country, and R&B flavors that long have lurked inside his output. Meanwhile, whenever he has crossed the Atlantic to perform in the U.S., he has stripped his songs to their barest essences, reconfiguring them for a solo acoustic format. In early 2009, Lowe assembled a two-disc, career-spanning retrospective (Quiet Please...The New Best of Nick Lowe), which provided not only a comprehensive overview of his work but also the impetus for his current sojourn. When he performs at Chicagoís Old Town School on October 9 and 10, Lowe will be backed, for the first time in a decade, by a full band.

Belle and Sebastian - Write about Love

10/11 - Belle and Sebastian - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

Concerts by Scotlandís Belle and Sebastian have always been rare events. In fact, the bandís upcoming appearance at the Chicago Theatre on October 11 is one in a series of only 10 shows that it will perform on American soil this fall. For a long time, it didnít matter much. Belle and Sebastianís popularity grew on its own accord, simply on the basis of its superb studio recordings. Anyone familiar with the groupís soft and subtle approach arguably will have to concur that properly conveying these songs amidst the din of clinking glasses and chattering twenty-somethings would be an impossible task. Nevertheless, with Dear Catastrophe Waitress and The Life Pursuit, Belle and Sebastian not only expanded the boundaries of its work, but it also armed itself with an arsenal of material that is capable of competing with the inevitable noise of a crowd. After a four-year hiatus ó during which the collectiveís members pursued a variety of outside interests ó Belle and Sebastian is returning to Chicago on the eve of the release of its latest effort Write about Love.

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Of Further Interest...

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 1-7, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 20-30, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 16-19, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: September 11-15, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: October 9-16, 2009

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