Jan 25, 2011

Liz Phair - Ram's Head Live

By Bob Suehs

www.rocknrollexperience.com

LIZ PHAIR

January 25, 2011

Baltimore, MD

Winter weather on the east coast is hit or miss at best; what I mean by that is winter time can be mild at one moment then dump loads of snow the next and that's the way it always is here. On the night Liz Phair brought her Girlysounds to Baltimore we all lucked out & the weather was chilly but mild!

The days prior to this show the temps were in the 20's, but the night Liz came to town we experience a nice 40 degree night & it's interesting to note that several hours after the show the east coast was hit with a decent sized snow storm that cancelled most things happening the day after the show!

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I can't explain why, but Baltimore is NOT a rock town & what I mean by that is, when Liz Phair plays the 9:30 Club in DC she can easily sell it out, yet in Baltimore she attracted just a little over 200 fans & regardless of the crowd size Liz & her band gave a stellar performance!

The opening act for the night was ok, they played a mix of indie rock & modern rock and I'd say that their drummer was the star of the show in my eyes, he played really hard & was an interesting guy to watch; we joked that the bands singer kinda looked like Art Garfunkle from Simon & Garfunkle with his white man's afro...the opening band was simply a buffer zone between Liz & the fans so as soon as the openers were done it was time for the crowd to get what they came for!

Liz and her band took the stage with no frills, the lights simply dimmed & they all shuffled to find their designated spots on the stage. The overall set up was minimal, they carried small tube amps and I'm still not sure what kind of amp Liz was playing through but her lead guitarist had a Fender Princeton & the bass set up was also a small amp with the largest piece of equipment on that stage being a full drum set.

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While on the notion of the drum set, Liz had a new drummer for this leg of the tour & there's a funny story about that because after the show a fan yelled to her drummer, "I saw you in DC last month with Liz!" & the new drummer yelled back, "I wasn't in DC, I just joined the band!".

Set list wise, the show moved fast, the entire night was over a little after 10:20 PM & Liz wasted no time in covering all the bases...the only record not represented at this show was the "Somebody's Miracle" record, that was the only record she played NOTHING from!

Liz took the stage in a super short halter dress, fishnets & spiked high heels. I've always been someone who pays attention to the fine details so what I noticed when I looked at Liz's feet was that she put wadded up black tape on her spiked heels so she didn't fall & I found that clever & crude in a rock n roll sorta way!

"Supernova" was the nights opener & it got the crowd moving, then "6'1" was song #2; I give it to Liz, she opened with 2 songs that were upbeat & poppy as opposed to when she opened with an unplugged set a few years back. I've always enjoyed a rock show that started off upbeat & "Supernova" is a great opener for Liz.

"Divorce Song" has always been one of those songs that I loved from the first time I heard it & this night it maintained the same power & beauty that it always had for day one. "Nashville" has been a staple to Liz's current set list & it's one of those songs that the crowd almost instantly recognizes with; it's a fun song that's singer/songwriter based & highlights Liz's ability to craft well written songs.

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The crowd reactions to Liz's new record, "Fun Style" were interesting...some people said they loved the new record, some said they didn't "get" it. My personal opinion on "Fun Style" is that it's an artistically interesting record that's not really meant to be reproduced in a live setting, it's a record that gave Liz sole creative freedom to make the record she wanted with no limits, no expectations & no boundaries.

"Extraordinary" was probably my personal favorite of the night & I'm not afraid to admit it, I like the pop side of Liz Phair! The self titled record she released that made her a household name is also what got me into her music & it's how I discovered her older material so I definitely enjoy the pop material Liz created as well as the indie material.

Shocker of the night though was that "Flower" was NOT performed! At most shows on this tour Liz has been performing "Flower" & inviting female fans onstage to sing with her, but at this show "Flower" was absent from the set!

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Liz commented that she just got a new guitar stomp pedal & that she knew she'd have problems with it & sure enough, during "Fuck & Run" she had a problem with the pedal & she started the song over due to her confusion with how to use the pedal.

Liz commented that her attire was a tribute to Blondie & that her time onstage was the only time she got to dress up because touring in a van she was only able to dress up when she was onstage.

When Liz started the nights encore her guitar had a problem & she borrowed one of her lead guitarist's guitars & Liz commented that it was a big deal for her to be allowed to use one of his guitars!

If you ever see Liz Phair in concert a personal piece of advise is to not rely on the set list! What I mean by that is, it's iffy as to whether or not she will follow that set list or not; at some shows I've attended she'll open with a song not even listed on the set list & she'll veer off in a totally different direction as opposed to what's listed on the stage set list!

On this particular night the set list was accurate up until the encore, that's where Liz ended the show totally different than the listed set. "Soap Star Joe", "Girly Sound" & "Why Can't I?" were the listed closers, but what happened in reality was that a fan yelled out a song, she stumbled through it, then told the band they were doing "Why Can't I?" then they ended on "Johnny Feelgood"

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When it was said & done the crowd filed out of the venue in an orderly, adult fashion, there was NO pushing, NO shoving, NO rude behavior and as I exited the venue I peeked over at the merch table to sadly notice there was NO Liz Phair merch for sale!

Seeing a Liz Phair show is NOT about seeing a polished, perfect performer....seeing a Liz Phair show is about experiencing a live rock show, flubs & all...there are mistakes, there are problems, but through it all it's a real, live rock n roll show!