Chicago Concert Preview
November 23-30, 2010
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2010, Volume 17, #11
Written by John Metzger
Tue November 23, 2010, 06:30 AM CST
11/23 - Brandon Flowers / Fran Healy - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
Both The Killers and Travis have been shelved temporarily so that their front men — Brandon Flowers and Fran Healy, respectively — could pursue their own projects. Oddly enough, neither singer has a particularly captivating personality; instead, they each have fit neatly alongside their bandmates, providing perfectly complementary vocals without overshadowing the proceedings. For his part, Flowers has broken with the tradition of The Killers, at least in part. At their core, the songs on his debut Flamingo still echo the epic narratives of Bruce Springsteen, but he has scaled back the music to the point where the entire outing feels as if it is lacking focus. Meanwhile, Wreckorder — Healy’s first attempt at a solo effort — largely mirrors the work he has done with Travis. Although it is a solid effort, it begs the question of why he didn’t just ask the other members of Travis to join him. When singers step out on their own, it usually is to diversify their sound and discover who they are. Hopefully, Flowers and Healy will find the answers they are seeking through their collaborative tour, which stops at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago on November 23.
11/26 - Freddy Jones Band - Park West - Chicago - 7:30 p
It has become a tradition for fans of the Freddy Jones Band to congregate at Park West in Chicago on the Friday after Thanksgiving in order to relieve the stress of a day spent searching for the perfect Christmas gift. The group has reduced its profile significantly in recent years, but this annual gathering seems to happen like clockwork. Considering that the outfit issued its last studio effort (Lucid) in 1997, these rituals also keep alive the hope that the Freddy Jones Band will once again become an ongoing entity rather than a nostalgia act. There’s no doubt that In a Daydream, Rain, Ferris Wheel, and Come on Back are terrific tunes, but for many fans of the ensemble, a fresh batch of material would be a spectacular holiday treat.
11/26-27 - John Mellencamp - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 6:30 p
John Mellencamp made history earlier this year when his latest album No Better than This landed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s album chart. It was the first time since James Brown’s Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal in 1964 that a mono-only recording achieved this feat. Interesting as it may be, this tidbit underscores the state of the current music scene, which has come full-circle in recent years. Strangely enough, the technological progress that once spurred the development of hi-fi products is now making them impractical and unprofitable. As a result, promising formats like DVD-Audio and SACD are suffering slow deaths. Regardless of the trend, Mellencamp is using this approach not as a stunt, but rather as a method of heightening his point. His fascination with history provides a perspective for his meditations on life in the 21st Century. At the start of each concert on his current tour, which lands at the Chicago Theatre on November 26 and November 27, Mellencamp is presenting a short documentary that further illustrates the impetus for and meaning of No Better than This. Although he also will delve into the many hits from his back catalogue, he is likely to give new life to the songs, much as his superb four-disc retrospective (On the Rural Route 7609) did.
11/27 - Mavis Staples - Park West - Chicago - 8:00 p
In the weeks that followed the release of her latest set You Are Not Alone, Mavis Staples zigzagged across the country, visiting virtually every talk show on television and making several high-profile concert appearances. By her side, nearly every step of the way was Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who produced and performed on the endeavor. Staples long has deserved more attention than she has received, and Tweedy’s involvement seems to have helped her to get it, at least for the moment. When Staples takes the stage at Park West on November 27, it will be her first performance in Chicago since she issued You Are Not Alone. Tweedy may or may not join her, though it is difficult to imagine that he will stay away given how much time and energy he has invested in the project. After all, the venue is only a hop, skip, and jump from his home on the North side of the city. Hopefully, though, all of the fans he has lured to the show won’t forget about Staples after Tweedy fades from the picture.
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