Ricardo Baca and G. Brown
Denver Post Staff Writers
31 August 2003, Denver Post
As the big acts wind down their summertime amphitheater/arena touring schedules each fall, the excitement of live music goes inside and switches almost full time to the theaters and the bars. Acts we haven’t seen for a long while (Portishead frontwoman Beth Gibbons and Fischerspooner), groups aboard the full-on hype train (White Stripes and Atmosphere) and some familiar faces (Loudon Wainwright III and The Allman Brothers Band) could easily give legendary peformances in Colorado this fall.
And here are 10 shows that should induce serious guilt if you were to miss them.
White Stripes, Fillmore Auditorium, Sept. 19. Detroit’s finest returns to Denver after selling out the Ogden Theatre about a year ago – and what a year it’s been. Jack and Meg White, guitar-and- drums duo extraordinaire, are officially the coolest people on the planet. The mainstream music media have been working overtime to solidify the Stripes as the arbiters of cool, the greatest band toemerge this millennium, and for once, they’re right.
The Stripes, four records into their career with this year’s release of ‘Elephant,’ are deserving of the praise. They’ve melded their indie rock sensibilities with their honest penchant for the blues, and, via their elitist music practices, they’ve created some of the most pertinent music of the decade. Jack White’s straightforward songwriting has a lasting effect that draws you into his world, which often represents some of life’s most tragic moments put in the simplest terms lyrically.
The Allman Brothers Band, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Sept. 19. Old fans take it as gospel – the Allman Brothers Band’s first few albums are still among the finest rock music recorded during the late ’60s and early ’70s, particularly for the incendiary twin guitar attack of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. Thirty years on, it might be classic rock sacrilege to say it, but having survived the devastating 1971 death of founder Allman and the curious ouster of Betts a few years ago, the new edition of the band is rocking just as hard – a considerable surprise. The aptly titled ‘Hittin’ the Note’ is the blues boogie bunch’s best studio album in decades, assisted by the skillful interplay between Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, two outstanding, resourceful guitarists.
Fischerspooner, Boulder Theater, Sept. 25. When Fox, the TV network, hit the air with its ‘That ’80s Show’ in early 2002, it was obvious it was going to be a debacle. The world wasn’t yet ready for that part of the ’80s, the cheesy, mindless sitcom portrayal of the legwarmer decade, but, at the same time, another ’80s revival was warming up throughout the streets of New York City. Fischerspooner was channeling the new wave in a big way, and it was hot. The duo’s stage antics often upstaged their synth-heavy music, but after the mid-2002 release of ‘#1,’ the group’s true full-length debut, it was evident that not only were we ready for more ’80s-inspired music a la Depeche Mode, but also that the artists making up Fischerspooner were a force to be reckoned with.
Atmosphere, Fillmore Auditorium, Sept. 30. ‘Whatever, I knew them before they were famous,’ is a typical brush-off you’ll hear from most music snobs be it rock or pop or electronic. But hip-hop culture is different in that respect. There’s little snobbery there; it’s more of a love, a respect that you both knew Jurassic 5 in the late ’90s before ‘Quality Control’ dropped. This type of love can be seen at any Atmosphere show. The Minneapolis-based group, which consists mainly of Slug (MC), Ant (producer) and Mr. Dibbs (DJ) has been touring relentlessly since the late ’90s, and thanks to the help of grass-roots promotion and college radio, including one of the group’s biggest champions in the country, the excellent ‘Bassmentalism’ program at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Radio 1190, they’re finally emerging from the club level and playing the 3,600-capacity Fillmore Auditorium this time round. As with any quality MC, Slug fearlessly opens up his psyche to his fans, placing him and his trying life dilemmas at the bull’s-eye of each track. To this point, the group’s discs show why Atmosphere is moving forward with such momentum. Something to look forward to: Atmosphere plays Denver a week after ‘Seven’s Travels,’ its debut on Epitaph, hits stores.
Steve Winwood, Fillmore Auditorium, Oct. 2. Fans of his yup- scale R&B deserted him in the late ’90s, so the veteran musician has rekindled his muse through the approach of the jam-band world, launching his new Wincraft Music label with Colorado-based SCI Fidelity. And why not? During his stint more than 30 years ago with Traffic, he helped create the blueprint for much of what’s now known as jam music. Throughout his new album, ‘About Time,’ Winwood filters his jazz-rock style through his crack band’s world-music influences. He plays the Hammond B-3 organ for a deep, robust sound, and his blue-eyed soul vocals are as precise as ever. He kicks off a U.S. tour next month.
Holly Golightly, Larimer Lounge, Oct. 6. Who has time for 11 solo albums in only eight years, especially when all your hipster-artist friends love your voice so much that you’re constantly hounded with requests to ‘sing on my song?’ Holly Golightly did it, and also accomplished another nearly impossible feat this year: She infiltrated a Whites Stripes record. Although Jack White is insistent that his tracks include only him and Meg, he invited Golightly to sing with him on ‘It’s True That We Love One Another,’ and the song mixes both of their aesthetics. Like White, Golightly bows down to the blues in her garage rock, and the similarities between the artists are obvious just listening to her solo stuff, including the excellent new disc ‘Truly She Is None Other.’
Cursive, Gothic Theatre, Oct. 14. Cursive comes straight out of Omaha, and yes, its soul-baring music is exemplary of that whole Omaha sound. (For those of you who have been living in a box for the last couple of years and don’t quite understand what this Omaha sound may consist of, please turn your web browsers to www.saddle- creek.com and check out the label’s streaming jukebox.) Listening to Tim Kasher work his way through ‘The Recluse,’ a track off the new ‘The Ugly Organ,’ is like hearing a less metaphor-laden Robert Smith reveal his vulnerabilities and insecurities via stories that ring with a sense of urgency and danger. If you need a reason to catch Cursive at the Gothic, just know that it’s only a matter of time before the band’s shows are like Bright Eyes’ recent tours – sweaty and sold-out.
Beth Gibbons, Ogden Theatre, Oct. 19. It’s been nearly 10 years since Gibbons first let loose her voice on the world as part of the seminal trip-hop group Portishead. A beautiful but melancholic instrument that can communicate sorrow or convey subtle longing and compassion, it’s been copied hundreds of times. Now the arresting singer merits success as a solo artist. Her album, ‘Out of Season,’ released in England last year, is due in stores Stateside Oct. 7. She pieced the understated, saddening set of songs together with the help of Rustin Man, a.k.a. Talk Talk’s Paul Webb. Live, she’s not prone to entertaining outbursts, but expect a mesmerizing vocal performance.
The Waifs, Fox Theatre in Boulder, Oct. 30. This young, playful Aussie band – two sisters and a friend who have been playing together for a decade – is enamored of older American music like folk-rock. The new album ‘Up All Night’ offers pleasing acoustic- flavored songs about life on the road and trains and love, but the Waifs’ reputation rests on their accomplished live act. Bob Dylan, who by all accounts knows something about folk music, tapped the trio to open some of his spring shows. With a fall tour, the band is up to the task of converting many more music lovers to its charmingly bright, folky sound.
Loudon Wainwright III, Boulder Theater, Nov. 20. Perhaps the veteran folkie is best known as a humorous performer, given his ’70s fluke pop hit “Dead Skunk” and the irreverent topical songs National Public Radio occasionally commissions him to write. But he’s also an unflinchingly candid autobiographical writer, creating a rewarding repertoire about his ordinary, screwed-up existence with wit and painful introspection. It’s long been said that he’s truly in his element onstage, and his new live CD, “So Damn Happy,” features a cross-section of warm, sharp and funny weird material from throughout his post-1990 career. It can make fans laugh one minute and cry the next.