Jeff Elbel is obsessed with music (just like you), which explains his affection for The Big Takeover. As far as he can recall, he has contributed to every issue since #43 with R.E.M. on the cover. His featured articles have included interviews with heroes Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil, “Saint Bob” Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, and Sharon Jones of the Dap-Kings. Jeff works for a NASA consultant group by day, and fills as many of the other waking moments as possible chasing his daughters and performing with groups including his rock and roll band Ping. Jeff also freelances for the Chicago Sun-Times, and is nearly always sleep-deprived.
Anticipation for Vampire Weekend’s sold-out San Francisco concert was sky-high after the band’s six-year absence.
Scone corrals a new cast of players for a different approach to a soulful party album that’s both rowdy and tender.
For many fans aboard during U2’s development, the band’s triumph isn’t The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby. It’s 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, which is released on colored vinyl alongside the Grammy-hoarding How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
Avant-rock trailblazer Adrian Belew brought his quartet to the Arcada Theatre with material from 2019’s Pop-Sided album. Songs representing stints with psychedelic pop heroes the Bears, prog-rock titans King Crimson, and uncategorizable legend Frank Zappa rubbed shoulders with Belew’s solo favorites.
Premier punk rock festival Riot Fest returned to Chicago for its 15th anniversary. Coverage of Day 3 includes Guided By Voices, the B-52s, Patti Smith, Nick Lowe, the Raconteurs, unlikely mosh pit instigators the Village People, and more.
British New Wave icon Adam Ant took fans at the Vic Theatre on a time warp 37 years backward to 1982, performing his top-selling solo album Friend or Foe. [Updated 9/9/2019 with approved photos.]
With standouts including “Selling the Drama,” “I Alone,” and circle-of-life ode “Lightning Crashes,” Throwing Copper struck platinum in the space between alternative rock and grunge. This anniversary reissue includes includes Live’s landmark set before 200,000 people at Woodstock ’94.
Mark Knopfler has consistently defied the conventional definitions of guitar hero and rock star – while earning his reputation at the top of the heap. Knopfler brought worthy new songs from Down the Road Wherever to Chicago.
The Squeeze Songbook Tour date celebrated the band’s 45th anniversary and a rich back catalog that long ago earned appellations naming the songwriting engine of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook as the Lennon and McCartney of their generation. It’s a heavy crown for any songwriters to bear, but Difford and Tilbrook have done their best to keep it gleaming.
One of the world’s premiere heavy metal bands of the 20th century, British powerhouse Iron Maiden continue to be a force in the new millennium. The sextet returned to the Chicago area on Thursday, bringing its “Legacy of the Beast” tour with dazzling spectacle, virtuoso playing, and relentless energy.
Mike Peters has written anthems to match the best of them, and the Alarm’s recent output and performances suggest more rousing sessions to come.
Kids from ages one to at least 53 will welcome these utterly charming companion albums featuring Fred Rogers’ gentle truths and Johnny Costa’s sometimes-mellow, sometimes-stunning jazz piano.
The Stray Cats revived rockabilly for generations of music fans in the ’80s, and the trio’s own songs continue to resonate. The band has returned with worthy new material from its 40th anniversary album.
George Clinton’s farewell One Nation Under A Groove tour featured Parliament-Funkadelic, Fishbone, Dumpstaphunk, and Miss Velvet & the Blue Wolf. For all of current society’s decisiveness, there was nothing but unity and diversity in the house as everyone was “getting down for the funk of it.”
Universal celebrates the Seattle heavyweight’s 35th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of its Superunknown LP with 180-gram, colored double-vinyl reissues of band’s three most influential albums.
A clutch of then-fresh songs are testament to the notion that the Glimmer Twins had gas in the tank as a songwriting team during the ‘90s. After 21 years in the vault, Bridges to Babylon is a worthy addition for those who love the Rolling Stones’ eternal road show.
With her third solo album, Janet Jackson declared fierce independence from her famous brothers and launched true control of her own musical identity.
Roger Daltrey has sung enduring classics like “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me, Feel Me” from the 1969 rock opera Tommy too many times to count. However, he has never performed the material in quite the way that Who fans can hear on for The Who’s Tommy Orchestral.
Starr’s good-spirited message of peace and love remains well worth sharing, and the evening proved to be a great escape from the news cycle as well as a joyous musical celebration for generations of Beatles and Beach Boys fans.
Music fans up the road at Lollapalooza may have had their pick of more than 40 bands, but the Night Running tour packed adventurous musical variety onto one stage. Fans left Northerly Island confident that they had just seen the most spectacular rock show in Chicago.
Peter Frampton performed his final Chicago concert on Sunday, July 28, 2019. The set included hits like “Show Me the Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” and “Do You Feel Like We Do” alongside Humble Pie favorites and new songs from #1 Billboard Blues album All Blues.
After 46 years in the vault, Eagle Vision is releasing Carole King’s landmark 1973 performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival for the first time.
Andrew Bird played a hometown show that made a strong case for the accurate naming of his new album My Finest Work Yet.
The show encapsulated Alvin’s breakthrough as a songwriter and solo voice, and served as a calling card to draw people back for the new songs and stories he continues to tell.
Thirty miles from downtown Chicago in Naperville, Ribfest continues to be a summertime destination event for music fans in Illinois. This year, the crowd of thousands enjoyed Living Colour, Billy Idol, ZZ Ward, Grand Funk, Bad Company and more.
A multi-generational crowd assembled at Moline, Illinois’ TaxSlayer Center to hear the most celebrated catalog in popular music, delivered by the living legend responsible for it.
Get Pocket Full of Fire as a primer of band’s prowess through a collection of its best songs recorded live, but don’t miss a chance to see this compelling culture clash in person.
This live set will be warmly received by Deadheads and fans of intuitive and skillful jam band playing. Not many songs are duplicated among these three shows spanning five years, but there are a handful of opportunities to hear how the band flexes and twist songs in different moments.
This third and final set in Omnivore Records’ series of Buck Owens’ Capitol Records singles is a treasure for fans of the Bakersfield sound, and a testament to the power of Owens’ friendship and collaboration with guitarist/fiddler Don Rich.
The Frank Zappa reissue campaign hits a high-water mark with this lavish 40th anniversary presentation of the bandleader’s 1978 live album recorded over seven concerts between Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 1976 at New York City’s Felt Forum and the Palladium.
Scissor Sisters was the best-selling album of 2004 and a dance-pop smash in the UK, but failed to reach gold-record status in the band’s native USA. This high-quality LP reissue provides fresh opportunity for reevaluation.
Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and his sharp three-piece band returned to Chicago’s Vic Theatre to play material from 2018’s Call the Comet, other solo gems, breakout side project Electronica, and heavyweight hits from the Smiths. The seamless blend of old and new songs was a potent reminder of Marr’s role as the principal architect of the Smiths’ sound.
It’s difficult to understate the influence that Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western had upon its initial release during the Civil Rights Movement. This reissue welcomes fresh listening to an acknowledged treasure of American music.
It was a rare opportunity to see Ian Hunter flanked by pianist Morgan Fisher and guitarist Ariel Bender, the players who stood together during the heyday of Mott the Hoople leading to 1974 albums The Hoople and Live.
The UK Singles Volume One puts a twist on what could have otherwise simply been another greatest hits collection.
Fresh reissues allow listeners to appreciate these overlooked Badfinger albums from 1974 for them for the gems they are.
In contrast with his music’s meticulous prog-rock precision, real-world paranoia, isolation, and gothic gloom, Steven Wilson fills the venerable Royal Albert Hall with thrills, abandon, camaraderie and euphoric spirit.
“It’s already been seven years since R.E.M. called it a day,” says BBC producer Mark Cooper. “It’s lonely without them.” This pile of well-preserved pop may not stop everybody from hurting as R.E.M.‘s retirement enters its eighth year, but it can coax smiles to temper the loss.
The Stones’ 1968 release Beggars Banquet is a rarely-disputed classic and the final complete album from the quintet’s original lineup including Brian Jones. The LP’s two sides are led by the group’s sharpest forays into social protest, “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man.”
Radiohead fans enamored of Thom Yorke’s experimental excursions into electronic music sold out the ornate and stately Chicago Theatre. The set list was built around Yorke’s solo material, primarily focused upon 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. The singer was clearly in his element while pursuing a musical vision purely his own.
This newly restored Rolling Stones concert film recorded in 1994 includes 10 songs and 5 bonus cuts not included on the original 1995 Voodoo Lounge Live release.
Coverage of Chicago’s Riot Fest includes text and photos of Johnny Marr, Elvis Costello, Gary Numan and more.
Radiohead in 2018 continues its decades-long campaign of confounding expectations and challenging the norms of conventional rock bands. An adventurous crowd in Detroit offered strong support on Sunday. Photos by Andrew Potter.
Review and photos by Philamonjaro. The Pretenders’ playing is as vibrant and visceral as ever. The catalog of songs by Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers and company reveals rock and roll with substance, savvy arrangements and a mountain of melodic hooks. No pretending here; this band is the real deal.
Irish rockers U2 performed two dates at the United Center in Chicago, IL for its eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour. The set list leaned heavily upon U2’s recent bookend albums Songs of Innocence (2014) and Songs of Experience (2017). Photographer Philomonjaro was on hand to capture the action on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
You may never hear the last part of this record of charming lullabies, because you will be asleep before you get there.
The five guitar-laden pop-rockers on Gulfstream are emotionally potent while still connecting at the gut level, offering a promising start for a series of releases that extends into 2018.
With the extensive The Great Circle Tour 2017 barreling toward its final date in Sydney, the reactivated Midnight Oil showed no sign that it ought to return to retirement. The band’s activist posture and reinvigorated music are more potent and relevant than ever.
Australian activist rockers Midnight Oil stormed the stage at Cleveland, Ohio’s House of Blues for a night of political agitation and feral rock and roll. Cover photo by John Welk.
Paul McCartney brought his One on One tour to Chicago on Tuesday. Here’s an unconventional review of the former Beatle’s unconventional connection to some of his ardent fans – through the eyes of 11-year-old Melody Elbel. Photos by Curt Baran.