Chicago / Milwaukee Concert Preview
May 14-17, 2011

First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2011, Volume 18, #5

Written by John Metzger

Fri May 13, 2011, 06:30 AM CDT

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Elvis Costello - National Ransom

5/15 - Elvis Costello - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p

There are few artists who can match the extremely restless nature of Elvis Costello. Long ago, he stopped caring about who liked or didnít like his albums. As long as he was happy, this was all that mattered. Lately, Costello has been oscillating between bands, performing acoustic concerts with the Sugarcanes and bashing out high-energy rock ínĎ roll with The Imposters. Itís the latter group that will support him when he performs at the Chicago Theatre on May 15. Costello undoubtedly will tackle several tracks from his latest set National Ransom. Itís another solid collection of material, some of which is remarkably well suited to The Impostersí thunderous approach. For long time fans, though, the more interesting aspects of the show might emanate from how Costello and his supporting cast use the constructs of the new album to reshape and illuminate his older compositions. Country and soul undertones are certain to dominate the evening.

Raul Malo - Sinners & Saints

5/15 - Raul Malo / Seth Walker - Shank Hall - Milwaukee - 8:00 p
5/19 - Raul Malo / Seth Walker - S.P.A.C.E. - Evanston - 8:00 p

On his 2009 set Lucky One, Raul Malo finally regained his confidence as a songwriter. His latest endeavor Sinners & Saints goes even further. Throughout the affair, Malo touches upon the various stages of his life. Via his words and music, he paints images of his upbringing in Miami as well as his days with The Mavericks. He also provides political commentary (Living for Today) and tackles songs by Rodney Crowell (Til I Gain Control Again) and Los Lobos (Saint Behind the Glass). Sinners & Saints is the kind of album that many of Maloís fans knew he was capable of making. Its contents will form the basis of his shows at Milwaukeeís Shank Hall on May 15 and Evanstonís S.P.A.C.E. on May 19. Singer/songwriter Seth Walker will open both of these concerts; his soulful take on the blues isnít far removed from Maloís eclectic approach.

Warren Haynes - Man in Motion

5/16 - Warren Haynes Band - Park West - Chicago - 8:00 p

Warren Haynes most often is categorized as a blues artist. Nevertheless, there has always been a tremendous amount of soul music coursing through his veins. On Man in Motion, his first bonafide solo effort in 18 years, Haynes fully explores his R&B roots. Instead of leaning heavily upon the signature sound of his guitar, Haynes opted instead to emphasize his expressive vocals. To take the music from Man in Motion on the road, Haynes assembled a brand-new band. In addition to tackling material from the endeavor, the ensemble has not only reworked several Govít Mule standards, but it also has cooked up a tasty batch of cover tunes that are certain to further highlight the wellspring of influences that fueled Man in Motionís creation. The Warren Haynes Band will make its debut in Chicago on May 16 at Park West.

Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What

5/16 - Paul Simon - Vic Theatre - Chicago - 8:00 p
5/17 - Paul Simon - Chicago Theatre - Chicago - 7:30 p

Over the course of his career, Paul Simon has done quite a few astounding and remarkable things. He began by fusing the tightly knit harmonies of the Everly Brothers and the poetic ruminations of Bob Dylan with the shimmering pop of the Brill Building syndicate and the psychedelic overtones of The Beatles. After exploring various aspects of American roots music, Simon turned his attention to other nations, folding South African grooves and Brazilian rhythms into his arrangements long before it became an established approach. Why is it, then, that for most of the past two decades Simon has seemed so lost? Albums like Youíre the One and Surprise were stronger than they often were credited for being. Yet, Simon seemed to be searching for something that lay just beyond his reach. With the highly regarded So Beautiful or So What under his belt and a full-fledged remastering of his back catalogue on its way, Simon appears to have finally transcended his own iconic image. On his latest trek across the country, he is pairing theater shows with small club gigs, and he is using the performances to re-envision broad stretches of his output as well as tackle several well-chosen cover tunes. Simonís stay in Chicago includes concerts at the Vic Theatre on May 16 and the Chicago Theatre on May 17.

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Of Further Interest...

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: May 1-13, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: April 22-30, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: April 12-21, 2011

Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: April 4-11, 2011

Local Concert Preview for Chicago / Milwaukee: May 16-20, 2010

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