I owe Liz Phair a big, fat apology.
You see, I often take the initiative to let people know that while I adore her studio work, Liz’s live shows have been…lacking. If you’ve seen any of her promotional appearances on the Tonight Show, Letterman or singing “America, the Beautiful” during Game Two of this year’s World Series, you know what I’m talking about. While she has a flat affect to her voice that’s unique, she often has trouble hitting the same flat notes live, which I could never understand. However, this was not the case last night at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.
I took a Certain Mexican who, besides not “even know(ing) who Liz Phair is”, had never even BEEN TO A ROCK CONCERT BEFORE. In his life. Ever. So, the pressure was on for Liz to perform and impress this boy not only with her charm and songbook, but for the future of rock concerts themselves!
Starting out with just her acoustic guitar and a lead guitarist, Liz opened with the title track from her new disc, “Somebody’s Miracle” and the song benefited from the stripped-down arrangement – with all the production gloss removed, it sounded like an outtake from “whitechocolatespacegg”, her overlooked third album. A few other acoustic numbers followed before the full band came out to rock out to…well, “Rock Me”.
I’m surprised and glad Liz wasn’t afraid to do songs from her much-aligned “sell-out” Matrix album – she has no reason to be ashamed of these songs simply because they’re accessible. They’re well-written, tight and I was shocked to hear her hit all the notes that are so obviously AutoTuned in the studio versions. :::sing-songy::: Someone’s been prac-tice-sing!
One album she basically ignored was her latest – besides the aforementioned title track, the only other song I can recall her doing from it was “Lazy Dreamer” – she even shunned her latest single (thank goodness). In fact, many key Liz tracks were left unplayed – no “Supernova”, “Extraordinary”, “Johnny Feelgood”, “Dance of the Seven Veils”, no “Stratford-On-Guy”…but “Exile in Guyville” was heavily represented, with fun readings of “Fuck & Run” and a chugging re-imagining of “Flower” the sound guy completely fucked up, closing the show on an odd note.
Then, as the curtain closed, the most fucked-up thing happened – the crowd immediately headed for the exits like there was a fire coming from the stage. I don’t get it – she put on a great show, completely won me over and far exceeded my admittedly low expectations, and these people acted like if they weren’t in bed with a mug of warm milk by 11pm, they’d be Grumpy Gusses the next day at work. In response to the rapidly diminishing crowd, the house lights came up. If house lights could come up grudgingly, then that’s what happened – I don’t get it. You people don’t want an encore? Is this an L.A. thing?
So like I said, Liz, my apologies. You now officially put on a great live show, good enough to bring me back to your upcoming Anaheim show next week. Seeya there!Purely from memory setlist:Somebody's Miracle (acoustic)
Soap Star Joe (acoustic)
Lazy Dreamer (acoustic)
Perfect World (acoustic)
(the rest were with the full band)
Shitloads of Money
Baby Got Going
Red Light Fever
Help Me Mary
Some song from Whipsmart I can't recall the name of and I don't have it here with me right now
Why Can't I?
Fuck and Run
H.W.C. (someone shouted for it and the band complied!)
Trent at Pink Is The New Blog
has a more accurate setlist posted, plus an explanation for the missing encore. Check it out.