Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
February 1-14, 2011

First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2011, Volume 18, #2

Written by John Metzger

Tue February 1, 2011, 06:30 AM CST


Ted Leo - The Brutalist Bricks

2/1 - Ted Leo - Schuba's - Chicago - 8:30 p

Please Note: The Ted Leo show scheduled for tonight has been canceled. Scott Lucas & the Married Men will perform in his place. All tickets for Ted Leo's performance will be honored. Showtime is now 8p.

Although he isn’t bringing his band along for the ride, Ted Leo will still be playing before a packed house when he performs at Schuba’s in Chicago on February 1. The last few tickets to the concert were gobbled up weeks ago by fans. Nevertheless, the show still warrants inspection, if only because Leo so swiftly smothered rumors that he was running out of steam. No one will argue with the fact that his 2007 set Living with the Living was bloated and, at times, quite lifeless. In a dramatic turnabout, his latest endeavor The Brutalist Bricks makes a strong case that its predecessor’s diminished quality was merely a fluke. Fully rejuvenated, Leo blasts through a streamlined collection of hook-laden songs that vigorously rage against the injustices of life with raging, punk-fueled intensity. The album doesn’t break new ground, but it does allow him to become reacquainted with his roots.

Lyle Lovett - Natural Forces

2/2 - Lyle Lovett / John Hiatt - Pabst Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
2/11 - Lyle Lovett / John Hiatt - Rialto Square Theatre - Joliet - 8:00 p

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt have managed to turn a unique experience into an annual ritual. It’s doubtful, however, that anyone is complaining. After all, they are kindred spirits, and their collaborative sojourns are always filled with possibilities. Whenever they share a stage, Lovett and Hiatt set a casual, conversational tone by spinning anecdotal tales based on their recent experiences. They, then, use these stories to inspire each other to perform material from across the full breadth of their respective catalogues. Hiatt’s The Open Road was issued last March; Lovett’s Natural Forces was released six months earlier. There likely will be a few tunes from these endeavors tucked into the framework of their shows at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on February 2 and Joliet’s Rialto Square Theatre on February 11. Their approach, however, means that just about any song, including selections from Townes Van Zandt’s esteemed canon, is fair game to make an appearance during their set.

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

2/4 - The Decemberists - Riviera Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p
2/5 - The Decemberists - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee - 8:00 p

Unlike its other recent endeavors, which were full-fledged rock operas (The Hazards of Love and The Crane Wife), The Decemberists’ latest set The King Is Dead is a disconnected series of songs. This simplification of the group’s approach pervades its music, too. Gone are the prog-rock textures that increasingly had informed The Decemberists’ work. Instead, with help from Gillian Welch and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, the outfit followed an Americana-based approach. Perhaps The Decemberists is admitting that it had begun to reach beyond its means. Or maybe it just needed to try something different. Either way, The Decemberists hasn’t sounded this relaxed in quite some time. This certainly is a good omen for its concerts at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on February 4 and Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on February 5.

The Church - Untitled #23

2/11 - The Church - Park West - Chicago - 8:00 p

Ever since it issued Untitled #23 in 2009, The Church has been making up for lost time. From both critical and commercial perspectives, the group had fallen far from its heyday in the 1980s. The fawning praise that has greeted its new album, however, presents The Church with an opportunity to reestablish its authority and its legacy. The band spent most of 2010 celebrating its 30th anniversary by performing acoustic concerts that presented material from each of its endeavors in reverse chronological order. By the end of the year, it began to re-release its back catalogue, too. Of Skins & Heart, The Blurred Crusade, Seance, and Heyday hit store shelves in time for the holidays; Priest=Aura and Sometime Anywhere along with deluxe editions of Starfish and Gold Afternoon Fix are due momentarily. In the midst of a three-week tour across America, which will stop at Chicago’s Park West on February 11, The Church will continue to celebrate its longevity by tackling three of its efforts in their entirety: Untitled #23, Priest=Aura, and Starfish. Fans of the outfit certainly won’t want to miss it.


Of Further Interest...

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: January 18-31, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: January 5-17, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago: December 20, 2010 - January 4, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago: December 10-19, 2010

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: February 1-16, 2010


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