Chicago Theatre Review

concert reviews Category

Jim Messina – City Winery

March 28, 2017 No Comments

Jim Messina at City Winery

On Sunday night I had the pleasure of seeing  legendary producer/musician Jim Messina at the City Winery. 

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Everybody Love A High Note

February 5, 2017 No Comments

Lyric Opera – Chicago Voices

 

We’ve all heard the expression, “Anyone who was anyone was there!” Well last night at Lyric Opera of Chicago,

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A surreal evening with Bryan Ferry

August 6, 2016 No Comments
Bryan Ferry at Ravinia
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Photo by Terry Giardina

Saturday night was a special night. With a nice warm breeze and a star scattered sky, the king of suave,  legendary British singer Bryan Ferry made his first appearance at Ravinia. With a career spanning 40 plus years, Bryan delighted us with his deliverance of songs. His style, grace and coolness are what seems to be absent in the younger generation of performers.

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A Pair of Legends

August 1, 2016 No Comments

Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy at Ravinia

 

The audience knew they were in for a special night when two of the best guitarist to grace the music world were  about to hit the stage: Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy.

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Emmylou Harris / Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at Ravinia

July 19, 2016 No Comments

Emmylou Harris

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

 

Opening the show was the legendary Emmylou Harris, known for her amazing voice and famous collaborations. With a

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A Magical Night at Ravinia

June 25, 2016 No Comments

Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples – Ravinia

On a perfect summer evening, a sold out enthusiastic crowd descended on the grounds of Ravinia for what would be an amazing night of legends and music. Mavis Staples got the crowd going by starting with her 1973 hit, “If You’re Ready,(Come Go with Me). And for the next 45 minutes we took that ride with her. She played her classic Gospel, rich soul style in the famous Staple Singers way. She spoke about the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and how she witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King’s marches. She sang all her hits and finished with “I’ll Take you There”, the Staple Singers number one hit from 1972.

Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

Courtesy of Ravinia  Festival

After a short break Bob Dylan 0pened with a lively version of the Academy Award winner for Best Original Song: “Things have Changed” from the movie “ Wonder Boys”. This started the show off with the promise of another great Dylan concert.  Bob kept up the pace with the next two songs, “She Belongs to Me” and “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” before settling down into his latest efforts with the Great American Songbook of standards. Bob tenderly and delicately sang covers from Irving Berlin to Frank Sinatra, much to the approval of his hardcore fans.

After putting the crowd in this 5 song “Melancholy Mood” he switched gears and pulled out a personal favorite of mine, “Tangled Up in Blue” from his classic “Blood on the Tracks” album. Bringing the crowd to their feet with the opening lines, “Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’ ,I was layin’ in bed ,wondrin’ if she’d changed at all, if her hair was still red”. Bob sang it with great emotion and played a strong harmonica solo which brought cheers from the smiling happy crowd. When Bob finished to a standing ovation, he announced a short intermission. The crowd was buzzing with conversation after this set.

Bob and his Band opened the second set with the bluesy “High Water, for Charley Patton” which again got the crowd going. He quickly returned to the old standards that dominated the 2nd set, only throwing in “Early Roman Kings” with its blues drenched riffs. His  encore was a new arrangement of “Blowing in the Wind” with Bob on the keyboards.

Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

And then surprising everyone he closed the show with a hard hitting version of “Lovesick” from his 1998 Grammy Award winning album “Time Out of Mind”. Bob smiled and waved goodbye to the cheering crowd,  who clearly  wanted more. Another great Dylan show consisting of 21 songs. 15 of those  from his last 3 albums alone.

Bob seemed to want to stay current and only dip his toe into the past. Ravinia is a great venue for this American icon to perform his latest magic amidst a sea of truly happy fans.  Dylan’s triumphant return to Ravinia  -welcome back Bob after 30 years and thanks for a memorable evening of music.

Reviewed by Terry Giardina

 

 


Ravinia Season starts with a Big Bang

June 10, 2016 No Comments
Photo by Terry Giardina

Photo by Terry Giardina

What are some of the best things about summer in Chicago?  Beaches, fests, Bike rides, the lakefront just to name a few. But for me and many others the greatest thing about summer is Ravinia.  And as far back as I can remember I have always equated Ravinia with the start of the summer (perhaps some people think memorial day). What better way to spend a beautiful summer evening then hanging out with good friends, good wine,  listening to some of the best live music to kick off Ravinia 2016.

Billed as the “Last Summer on Earth”  Tour, this triple header, four hour concert was quite a musical masterpiece. The triple header being Howard Jones, OMD and Bare Naked Ladies. As I looked around at the crowd ( many in my age group) I felt transformed back to my 20’s dancing the night away to the music of Howard Jones and OMD. And might I mention watching Andy McCluskey work the stage was quite impressive. “If you Leave” brought us all back to that John Hughes “Pretty in Pink” soundtrack, a classic movie which really defined the 1980’s.

Photo by Terry Giardina

Photo by Terry Giardina

And then BNL took the stage. A Canadian band who came onto the music scene in the late 1980’s. Besides some great songs (Brian Wilson, If I had a Million Dollars) it is their whimsical, humorous bantering that made audiences take note of this very talented group. They treated us to a song about a restaurant they had eaten at (loved the food, not so much the décor). They also sang about the many different food items being eaten on the lawn. Their ability to improvise is just one of the things that sets them apart from many other groups.

Now I have always been a fan of BNL. There is no mistaken those voices whenever you hear one of their songs. They gained even more popularity doing the theme song from “The Big Bang Theory”. Before treating us to the scientific way the world began we were given an alternative version, “God did.” Just a little more humor from these guys who looked like they were having as much fun as their audience. At one point Howard Jones joined them to do “No one is to Blame.”

Photo by Terry Giardina

Photo by Terry Giardina

Sitting in front of me were a father and his teenage daughter. They kept pulling up photos of all three groups from their very early days. This was a reminder to myself how lucky my generation was to have this music. How fortunate we are to still have these groups performing and transporting us back to a time when life seemed easier. Music is one of the things that unites people and even for a short time makes us forget our troubles.

Oh and did I mention how lucky we are to have Ravinia and all it has to offer. A great beginning to what can only be an amazing summer  in one of the greatest outdoor venues.

 

For complete schedule visit www.ravinia.org

 


Kevin Nealon at City Winery

May 23, 2016 No Comments

The City Winery opened in 2012 at 120 West Randolph,  conveniently located in the Fulton Market District of the West Loop. This was actually my first trip to this venue and I can honestly say I cannot wait to go back. It just happened to be one of those beautiful Chicago Sundays, a great day to do anything in the city. The first thing I noticed was the exquisite outdoor patio, a perfect day for dining al fresco. As I entered inside I was so impressed with the space. 3300 Sq Ft. with something for everyone. An open airy space that is home to good wine (having won awards for outstanding world wide wine lists). In addition the shows,  menu and ambiance gives one many reasons to frequent this venue.

winery

 

On this particular evening I was there to catch the 5pm Kevin Nealon show. And while the show did not begin until 5:30 (Adam Burke opened the show with about 15 minutes of some fun material),  it did not matter much to anyone there.  Everyone just seemed to be having a great time enjoying all the city winery has to offer.

Kevin Nealon best known for his years on SNL and the nextfilx series Weeds came out on stage looking quite dapper in his suit. His opening line was “it’s me, this is what I look like, I am taller then you thought.” He was likeable from the very beginning in a boyish charming way. After about five minutes on the stage he shouted backstage “how am I doing on time?” Then I was hooked. And the show only got better from there. He shared stories about Jack Nicholson, how he got his start on Saturday Night Live (through his friend Dana Carvey) and a bit about his personal life and his 9 year old son. He bantered with the audience using his subliminal man (from SNL) and gave us a bit of Hans and Franz complete with more stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger.

kevin

What makes this comedian different from many I have seen is his unique brand of comedy. His humor while dry is also clean and refreshing. Towards the end of the show it was clear the audience did not want him to leave. So back he came several times looking quite appreciative. And in a final gesture of goodwill as he departed for the last time, he left us with his middle finger pointing up. And just like that the show ended. It was the perfect night of comedy, mixed with great food and wine and the perfect ambiance.

This is now one of my new favorite venues and I am looking forward to seeing some live music in this space. For anyone who has not been to City Winery do yourself a favor. Check out the upcoming schedule, grab a date or a group of friends and you will certainly be in for a spectacular evening. I know I will be back as often as I can.


Jackson Browne at Ravinia

September 7, 2015 No Comments

Jackson Browne at Ravinia
In my long career of concert going, I must admit somehow I have never seen Jackson Browne, though I have many of

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Santana- Still as Good as Advertised…and Smooth

August 31, 2015 No Comments
 Reviewed by Scott Kirshenbaum