Jan 24, 2014

Big Star's Third @ Enmore Theatre

Big Star. So influential. Almost legendary. Long gone. Well, sort of. Thursday night at the Enmore was a celebration of them and in particular their third album sometimes known as "Sister Lovers". I only came to Big Star in recent times. I had heard them name checked several times and I had loved the song "Alex Chilton" by The Replacements. But it was only in the last couple of years that I had delved into their music. Firstly "Third/Sister Lovers", then the earlier albums and finally the documentary released last year. It's a fairly tragic tale of course. Small band from Memphis releases debut album to much love and little sales. Two more albums would follow but not get a proper release until years later. Founding member Chris Bell dies at age 27. Years later two more pass away including the main man Alex Chilton. But drummer Jody Stephens and the music live on. The 'band' as such was Stephens, Mike Mills (R.E.M.) and Ken Stringfellow. They were joined by a great string and horn section, plus Mitch Easter and Chris Stamey to round out the band. Throw in two great singers in Bret Harris and Skylar Gudasz and you have a fairly potent talent pool. But wait there was more. Allow me to explain.

Firstly Stringfellow opened the night with "Nature Boy". Then a parade of guest singers would be introduced to sing lead vocals on each of the album's tracks. Singers were local and overseas, each providing their own unique voice to these unique songs. Kim Salmon was great on "Kizza Me" and the simply amazing "Holocaust". The ever flamboyant Tim Rogers was rousing on "O, Dana". Kurt Vile only sang on one song. He needed a lyric sheet to ply "Stroke I Noel". He was good but I think his voice suits his songs more in particular. The great Chan Marshall (Cat Power) was sublime with "Nightime" and "Femme Fatale". She is definitely though still a strange presence on stage with her awkward mannerisms. But oh that voice. Dave Faulkner strutted his stuff on "Big Black Car". I think my favourites though were Mike Mills leading the way on "Jesus Christ" and Bret Harris nailing it on "Kangaroo". Then every one joined the stage to group sing "Thank You Friends". Some contributions were better than others and like most tribute nights it had a slightly shambolic feel. But there was so much heart and love on display that it was a joy to see these songs performed live.

After a short break we were given another hour's worth of music with a smorgasboard of Big Star tunes. Some worked better than others. My favourites were Harris on "I'm With Love With A Girl" and Gudasz on the completely glorious "Thirteen". She was also great with "Morpha Too". As was Tim Rogers flailing us with "Give Me Another Chance". Mills was also popular when he led the chorus on the much loved "September Gurls" before we were graced by Edwyn Collins on "The Letter", which Chilton had made a hit with The Box Tops. This was quite simply a satisfying night. Legendary music performed with much love and soul and heart. Who could ask for anything more?  

Set List
Nature Boy
Kizza Me
O, Dana
For You
Nightime
Jesus Christ
Big Black Car
Stroke It Noel
Blue Moon
Femme Fatale
Downs
Dream Lover
Holocaust
You Can't Have Me
Kangaroo
Thank You Friends

Feel
Daisy Glaze
Thirteen
I'm With Love With A Girl
You And Your Sister
February's Quiet
Back Of A Car
In The Street
There Was A Light
Way Out West
Morpha Too
Give Me Another Chance
I Am The Cosmos
Till The End of the Day
September Gurls
The Letter

When My Baby's Beside Me

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