Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
May 1-13, 2011
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2011, Volume 18, #5
Written by John Metzger
Wed May 4, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT
5/6 - Matthew Ryan - Schuba's - Chicago - 7:30 p
Over the course of his career, Matthew Ryan has concocted albums that have run the gamut from the chiming, U2-isms of East Autumn Grin to the sparse, Springsteen-imbued folk of Concussion. Between his latest set Dear Lover and its counterpart Dear Lover (The Acoustic Version), he binds these strands of his work together. Born from his personal trials and tribulations, the collections are the result of time spent sitting by a companion’s side in an emergency room. Yet, by offering two versions of the same suite of songs, he covers greater emotional terrain. With music that rises, falls, and surrounds him, the original endeavor provides cathartic release; with its quiet intimacy, the latter rendition reveals his sorrows and fears. Ryan is very good at relaying his material in concert, and his witty stage banter provides a respite from the heaviness of his lyrics. He will return to Schuba’s in Chicago for a performance on May 6.
5/6-7 - Neil Young - Chicago Theater - Chicago - 8:00 p
Most artists create new music and then spend a lot of time on the road supporting their work. Neil Young frequently follows a completely different approach. Often, he will preview a forthcoming project, much to the consternation of fans who want to hear something familiar, and then purge the material from his shows in the wake of the collection’s release. It is somewhat surprising, then, that on his recent trek across the eastern half of the country, Young is revisiting the concepts he explored last year, both on stage and in the studio. As he jumps from guitar to pump organ to piano, Young will mix well-known favorites from his past — After the Gold Rush, Helpless, Ohio, and Cortez the Killer, among them — with a healthy sampling of selections from his latest endeavor Le Noise. Once again, folk artist Bert Jansch, whose innovative style undoubtedly has influenced Young’s work, is joining him on tour and will open both shows at the Chicago Theater on May 6 and May 7.
5/10-11 - Fiery Furnaces - Schuba's - Chicago - 8:00 p
Despite its indie upbringing, Fiery Furnaces doesn’t do anything in a small way. Two years ago, the group not only issued its eighth studio set I’m Going Away, but it also refashioned most of the material from the effort to create its latest endeavor Take Me Round Again. Although Fiery Furnaces is a collaboration between him and his sister Eleanor, Matthew Friedberger refuses to be constrained by the outfit. Last year, he announced plans for an ambitious eight-album collection of vinyl LPs on which his vocals will be accompanied by a single instrument. Thus far, he has adorned his songs with piano, guitar, and harp. These efforts — along with selections culled from Fiery Furnaces’ first decade of work — will provide fodder for the band’s concerts at Schuba’s in Chicago on May 10 and 11.
5/13 - Marcia Ball - Old Town School - Chicago - 7:00 p & 10:00 p
It took a long time for Marcia Ball to gain much attention for her work. Since joining Alligator Records, however, her luck has changed. Now, Ball seems to have Grammy nominations and other assorted accolades tossed her way whenever she issues an album. Not that she doesn’t deserve them. Released in March, her latest effort Roadside Attractions further extends her seriously solid string of recordings. Once again, she bastes her brand of piano-driven blues in equal amounts of New Orleans rhythms and Texas-bred soul. A fiery performer with a captivating presence, she undoubtedly will take Chicago’s Old Town School by storm when she performs two shows at the intimate venue on May 13.
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