Chicago Review

Review by Grady Moates (Switch to

Well, I wasn't planning to attend The New Cars show in Chicago, but when the need to schedule a business trip to Illinois came up about five days before, I just couldn't resist scheduling it around a TNC show. I have a close friend in CHicago that I've always wanted to "force-feed" a quality TR performance to, and The New Cars really have TR performing at his best these days.

Also, I'd planned to attend the Portland, Maine show (which was cancelled at the last minute) and was hungry to "make up" that show.

So, with only four days to plan, on the most heavily-travelled weekend of the year, I actually got a cheap airplane ticket to make it happen, so I was off!

Load-in was delayed by four hours because of The House of Blues' weekly Gospel Brunch, so the set and backline were hastily loaded in and assembled starting after 2:00 PM. Sound check was scheduled for 5:30 rather than 4:30, but the guys seemed to drift out individually to check out their equipment and monitor setups. TR stood around for more than 20 minutes off and on, and at one point really got me going when he started noodling around in boredom and played quite a bit "#1 Lowest Common Denominator". I mean, I was sure that wasn't a recent addition to the set list, but that tune sure sounds fine when TR plays it at The House Of Blues! Finally, everyone was onstage except Kasim, and Todd said something like, "Can we not get a quorum up here?" Even though it started late, it was the longest sound check I've observed on this tour. My head came VERY CLOSE to exploding, but I was able to "stifle myself" when I realized that if I didn't, I'd miss the show!

Persephone's Bees were once again more than competent, and my friends found them to be quite interesting, especially their last tune where the guitarist and bassist swap instruments and blow the roof off the house. And it's an impressive house. . . with three balconies rising above the orchestra pit/dance floor area. TNC was using the house main line arrays, amps and lighting systems, with their own monitor systems and mixing desk. I was surprised and pleased with the sound quality at our location. . . HOB offers dinner with guaranteed seating packages, and I had luckily gotten one of the last available, so we had great seats on Elliot's side of the room, elevated above the standing audience on the floor. It was hard to remain seated for much of the show, but it was a great relief to have somewhere to park our butts when the old feet started to ache.

When The New Cars started their set, the House of Blues was quite respectably filled. While more people could have been jammed in there, there was just enough room to get around without having to bodyslam my way through the crowd. Everyone was fully involved and participatory. Chicago seemed ready and anxious to experience The New Cars, and the guys didn't let them down. Song after song, the well-oiled machine that The New Cars have become raced through the room, pumping up the energy. At times the audience approached the level of hysteria that I've always thought should be the norm for TNC. I checked out my friends a few times during the show, and twice saw that slack-jawed, glassy-eyed look that means there's too much happening to take it all in. . . the intensity is so high that much of it is simply washing over, not being absorbed.

This was Kasim's last night in the ensemble for a while. . . I think Atom will be playing all the remaining shows until Las Vegas on December 16th. It was great hearing Kasim's vocals on "Drive" and "All Mixed Up", he's really made those songs his own.

I cannot contain myself when they play "Moving In Stereo". The arrangement and presentation for this song start up with a delicacy and precision that doesn't prepare the audience for the extremely heavy and powerful body of the song, and most of the audience was simply enthralled.

And all too soon, it was over again. I had to catch a 6:55 AM flight Monday morning, so we were out the door and on our way pretty quickly. My friends now have a newfound admiration and respect for TR, and I've learned how to keep my head from exploding.

Vegas, here I come!!

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11/26/2006 - House Of Blues - Chicago, IL

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