Show reports from 2008

Reviews from 1986-1992, Reviews of 1997, Reviews of 1998, Reviews of 1999, Reviews of 2000, Reviews of 2001, Reviews of 2002, Reviews of 2003, Reviews from 2004, Reviews from 2005, Reviews from 2006, Reviews from 2007 Reviews from 2008

I can only feature reviews when you send them to me. So if you see them - think of me, Nobby.


UK 2008:

Sun 17 Feb ENGLAND SHEFFIELD THE PLUG !!CANCELLED!! They try to get a gig in Manchester.

Spain 2008:

27·02·2008 Apolo Barcelona
28·02·2008 Gruta 77 Madrid
29·02·2008 Centro Social Benissa, Alicante
01·03·2008 12 & Medio Murcia


25 Mar 2008 19:00 Schubas Chicago, Illinois
25 Mar 2008 22:00 Schubas Chicago, Illinois
Mar 26 The Picador Iowa City

Mar 27 The Barrymore Theatre Madison WI

First picture gallery


From Club Mekon:

Chicago mekonistas missed a great double bill. The Mekons opened, but weren't anybody's opening act. Despite Tom's absence, they played a great variety of their catalog.

Highlights included Lu stepping up on Ye Old Trip, with the band totally rocking it out. Sally doing great versions of Ghosts, and Wild n Blue. Jon rocked out Cockermouth the way only Jon can leading Gary Louris to comment on his athletic ability ala Richard Simmons. Their encore included a great version of Big Zombie too.

Fans of Golden Smog, and The Jayhawks had plenty to enjoy with Gary Louris. He was there to promote his first solo cd, but with a band that included Eric Heywood on pedal steel they were equally adept to play anything in his back catalog. Eric also joined the Mekons during an encore earlier. Gary commented before starting his set on how any act could follow the Mekons, but he able to pull it off mixing in older material almost immediately between his new stuff.

Didn't meet any posters from here, but met a lurker named Ben from Madison. Also ran into old friends Kiki who holds home concerts in Madison including a future Gurf Morlix show coming up, and Jack who plays bass while also being a longtime Mekons fan. I can probably get photos from this show if someone can host them.

28 Mar 2008 20:00 Fitzgerald Theatre St. Paul, Minnesota

Mekons on Minnesota radio

From: City Pages:

No Faking: Peter S. Scholtes reviews the Mekons with Greil Marcus

Review by Peter S. Scholtes
Photos by Daniel Corrigan

The Mekons take up dozens of pages in Greil Marcus books on punk, and even shelf space among my CDs and records, but I couldn't have hummed you one of their tunes until Friday night. The Mekons were always a great sound first -- kind of a hootenanny version of "All Tomorrow's Parties" -- with songs that seemed worth the trouble once I got around to the lyric sheet at some future date. I've withheld judgment because I'm an admirer of Greil Marcus, whom (full disclosure) I know slightly, and who made me a Sex Pistols fan 18 years ago at a Hungry Mind reading of his book Lipstick Traces.

Both Marcus (of the Bay Area) and the Mekons (of Leeds, Chicago, and elsewhere) have ties to the Twin Cities: Marcus through family and former City Pages staff, the Mekons through their former record label Twin/Tone. So it's no fluke that an onstage get-together of band and rock critic should occur here, at the Fitzgerald, hosted by radio star Maria Lucia and taped for her talk music program The Current Fakebook on 89.3 the Current, coinciding with Mekon Jon Langford's art opening the same night at Rogue Buddha in Northeast.

The Mekons: punk rock roots and Twin City connections. More photos by Daniel Corrigan.

Marcus introduced the Mekons with a quote from another writer whose name he has apparently never tracked down, describing the band in the 1970s: "Those who couldn't play tried to learn and those who could tried to forget." But that line seemed to apply less to the band that took the stage than did Marcus's later, eloquent defense of some '70s punk band reunions (the Avengers, Gang of Four) as rediscoveries rather than retreads. The Mekons, who have been around in one form or another for 31 years, don't just look like the middle-aged people I want to be (or be with) -- singer-guitarist Langford all unembarrassed tummy with shirt open and white fuzz on top, singer Sally Timms spark-away blonde and Exene-hot. The four-plus singing voices are all throat--even Timms, whose softness luxuriates between edges. And their sit-down septet in a circle (of banjo, fiddle, percussion, vocals, accordion, bass, and guitar, along with other switched-out instruments) never neglects frenetic texture for jamming. What sets them apart from so many Prairie Home Companion roots bands that have entertained from the same spot onstage is that the songs physically seize these guys. The Mekons play like punks not because they forget their skills, but because they remember what punk taught them about how to feel.

After a few Mekons numbers, with more to come, Marcus and Lucia took the stage to do the interview thing, which was nearly as good. Lucia makes this look easy -- I'm never disappointed by where her armchair interviews go, and they almost never go where I expect them to. Sometimes this is the result of comic self-insertion: At one point Lucia basically asked Marcus what he thought of David Bowie, and admitted she was a fan to the point of not being able to imagine Bowie doing something mundane like plunging a toilet. But when she asked Marcus if there were any artists about whom he felt that way, he was anything but ungenerous with his "no," taking the opportunity to give the audience what it wanted -- something to react to. Marcus said that other people -- not he -- might feel that way about some artists: Lucinda Williams, for instance. He called Williams a "complete fraud": "I have never heard a word out of her mouth that didn't seem self-conscious, that didn't seem intended to be praised."

Mary Lucia interviews Greil Marcus. More photos by Daniel Corrigan.

While probably familiar to Marcus fans, this old attack on a Current favorite set in motion the night's only running gag: When Marcus and Lucia returned to the stage after an intermission with Timms and Langford to have another sit-down, Timms got Langford to admit that Lucinda Williams had recently bought some of Langford's art. When a microphone suddenly popped and crackled, Lucia (I think it was her) joked that Williams must be in the audience, and Langford pantomimed that he'd just been shot. Williams fans, meanwhile, could take some comfort in the fact that Marcus probably lost the other half of the room with his breathless praise of Jakob Dylan. (Really? Jakob Dylan? Again, I'll withhold judgment.)

The Williams bit was Marcus's way of being gregarious. And he was as enthusiastic, thoughtful, and social in his other responses -- his writing can be infuriating when you disagree, a model of holding nothing back (to the point of seeming to make a show of holding nothing back), but no one will ever accuse him of being too cool for the room. This match of disposition and position was good to be reminded about, as the natural inclination of most critics who are also human beings is to want to be liked by both artists and readers, and this desire can stifle. Talking to Lucia, who among other things talks to artists for a living, Marcus said without apology that he'd never once interviewed Bob Dylan, about whom he's spilled millions of words as a critic, and that he never found himself wanting to know more about the lives of the writers he admired or worked with.

The wisdom here is one I've tried to drill into every young critic who asks my advice: Be a journalist of your own reactions first, and don't let anything keep you from being honest about them. That said, there's no denying that journalism (not to mention sociability) of other kinds informs the work of "pure" critics: Marcus couldn't have written what he has about Dylan were it not for the interviews and reporting of many others. I'd include here the mediated live experiences of television and film, not to mention the opinions of friends, or the collective (if not communal) experience that concerts always are. Last year's Mekons album Natural (Touch and Go) seemed all right before the show, but I liked the band a lot more for seeing them live, hearing them talk, hearing others' reactions, and seeing Marcus look so grateful for them. Mesmerized by the Timms numbers, I found myself liking not just the Mekons but Minneapolis-St. Paul a bit more by association, though I've admittedly been won over for 18 years.

From: The Morning After

3.28.08: The Current’s Fakebook: Greil Marcus and The Mekons

By: Steve Marsh

For the first time in the Current’s Fakebook series—a concert series pairing authors with like-minded rock bands at the Fitzgerald Theater, hosted by afternoon drive-time DJ Mary Lucia—I felt sympathy for poor Mary during her interview with Pompous Rock Crit Emeritus, Greil Marcus.

For the last couple of years, Fakebook has been the perfectly programmed series, bringing in writers who appeal to the ideal Current listener, the literate indie-rock lover. The station has booked John Hodgman, Neal Pollack, Chuck Klosterman, and Amy Sedaris. The interviews have been uniformly great, especially for what are basically book events, with the authors managing to elicit something more than the typical knowing “MPR chortle” out of the audience—people have actually laughed their asses off. But I’ve always thought the interviews have succeeded because of the level of talent they’ve brought in, that they’ve succeeded despite the interviewer, Mary Lucia.

Because as the Fakebook host, she totally bugs.

Look, The Current is the only music station that I listen to anymore. And I’ve been listening to Mary Lucia since she was on REV when I was a teenager; so in my lifetime of radio listening, I’ve heard her voice more than any other afternoon drive-time DJ’s.

There is no detracting from her local icon status. Her tone of voice is perfect for hosting an indie-rock radio program. Balanced between being a fan and being totally whatever, it’s probably the happy result of being Paul Westerberg’s sister and having been around legendary rock dudes her whole life. It serves her well, whether she’s sighing, “I love that song” after playing “Leave Without a Trace” for the millionth time, or whether she’s trying to keep Wayne Coyne on topic, or whether she’s trying to tease some interesting answers out of a road-weary rock quartet from Sydney, Australia. Mary’s our supercool older sister who’s been to all the shows and had all the dorky rock conversations with the rock stars themselves.

Basically, she has a conventional sense of humor that works great when she’s plowing through a list of questions intended to shake something novel out of a guitar player. But put her in front of an intellectual with impeccable comic timing, and Lucia comes off as rote. Like the time she asked Amy Sedaris, “If somebody put a gun to your head, what tattoo would you get?” And Sedaris answered with an are-you-kidding dismissal: “A gun?”


But in retrospect, the chemistry between Marcus-Lucia made Sedaris-Lucia look like Davis-Sarandon. Greil Marcus is given to crediting, say, a New Pornographer’s concert with, “restoring my faith in humanity.” In his most recent book, The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice, he compares Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address to Sleater-Kinney. Uh…yeah. He takes this rock stuff seriously. It’s a pretty dramatic departure from Lucia’s philosophy of “color me impressed.”

Their interview covered all the requisite ground: Greil’s comparison between British and American punk, Greil’s thoughts on Dylan going electric, Greil’s time as music editor for Rolling Stone, and Greil’s rock critic creed (“You can’t care if the artist likes you”). But the entire time there was a disconcerting rhythm to the back and forth between Lucia and Greil. It was hard to watch.

Q: Do you think Lester Bangs was writing at the perfect time? Do you think it would’ve been different if he was writing now, for Mojo or something?

A: No.

Q: Do you think that back when you were editing Rolling Stone, the writers were able to write about themselves as much as they were writing about the music, and maybe that’s changed?

A: No.

Q: Do you think that maybe Dylan left for awhile after his 1966 tour because he just didn’t want to get booed anymore?

A: No.

Q: Do you have any strong feelings about David Bowie?

A: No.

Greil expanded on each one of those “no’s,” often hilariously (with that cold, derisive hilarity of the academy). He went on a long digression about how much he loved Jakob Dylan, and he shocked the audience by asserting “Lucinda Williams is a fraud.” But as the interview went on, I started feeling for Mary Lucia, up there with her list of questions for the Great Man. I mean, maybe she hasn’t seen the Stones at Altamont, and maybe she’s not a Stanford professor who can quote D.H. Lawrence off the top of her head, but she’s been backstage at the Entry when Tommy threw a beer bottle at Bobby. She knows what punk rock is too. She just hasn’t written the book on it.

At one point, after Mary was earnestly giving Greil credit for the New Pornographer’s quote, saying she appreciated the “innocence” in it, he protested that there wasn’t anything innocent about his opinions. And then he sort of compared his critical thinking ability to Lenin’s (a quick Walter Sobchak is called for: “Shut the f*ck up, Donny! V. I. Lenin. Vladimir Illich Ulynov!”). Talking about how he keeps his critical focus, Greil referenced Lenin’s famous quote about how he couldn’t listen to Beethoven’s Apassionata because it made him “want to say sweet silly things, and pat the heads of little children.” It’s a great quote, and it really does say something about how we probably need hard-asses like Greil Marcus in the world—thinkers who are unafraid to be negative, who are unafraid to tell us the truth even if it bothers us (even if it’s only about how Rufus Wainwright probably stinks). But it also says something about how there’s something really insufferable about being the smartest guy in the room. Really, is there anything more pretentious than comparing yourself to V. I. Lenin? 

We need the Mary Lucias of the world too. Maybe Fakebook works so well precisely because she’s never the smartest person in the room. She’s standing there in our place, asking the dumb questions we would ask. Charlie Rose does the same thing on his show, I suppose.

But Mary is way cooler than Charlie Rose.

Marcus and Mekons Fakebook

From Club Mekon:

Hey all!

It'd been almost ten years since the Mekons were in Minnesota. Before last Friday, their most recent appearance was on July 9, 1998 at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

After catching most of their Friday afternoon radio appearance on The Current (89.3FM), it took me longer than anticipated to finish up my work and head home to feed the dog & cats, then fight traffic to meet up with my wife & friends at Great Waters Brew Pub in downtown St. Paul, just a few blocks from the Fitzgerald Theater. St. Paul is normally a pretty sleepy burg, even on a Friday night, but, the Minnesota Wild were playing the Vancouver Canucks at the Excel Energy Center, so there were 18,000 rabid hockey fans to deal with. Most of the hockey insanity was centered on West 7th Street, and the pub was to the east of the arena on St. Peter, so parking by the Fitzgerald was no problem and Great Waters was crowded, but manageable. I was the last to arrive, hungry and thirsty. I felt lucky to be alive, to be with my wife and friends, and to be getting ready to once again see the Mekons. On a recommendation from my friend Keating, I had an Ides of
March pale ale to get the night started, and I ordered a wild rice veggie burger and fries for dinner. It was great to catch up with Keating and our friends Chris & Tracy, talking music and baseball. I followed the pale ale with a Blackwatch Oat Stout before it was time to head over to the Fakebook with Greil Marcus and the Mekons. The beer was tasty, but I couldn't settle on a flavor, so I was willing to try everything, but there wasn't time enough for that.

I wasn't really sure how this Fakebook thing was supposed to work. Marcus' new book is "The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice" and I don't think it has much to do with music or the Mekons. There was a nice little bar in the lobby of the Fitzgerald, and my wife was nice enough to buy me a beer. I checked out the merchandise table, surprised to see "The Mekons Story" there, but didn't want to plunk down $20 and then hold it in my lap all night, plus I had no cash on hand. Our seats were great -- in the third row, center stage. It'd been ages since I'd seen anything at the Fitzgerald, and I didn't remember how small it was. The stage had some stuffy chairs setup on the left side, and then other chairs and instruments setup on the right side. It felt comfortable, a real homey feel.

Shortly after 8pm, Mary Lucia, one of the Current's on-air DJs, who would interview Greil Marcus, came out and introduced the Mekons. Out they came, sat down, and played Perfect Mirror, Hole in the Ground, Oblivion and Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem. They sounded great. Awesome in fact. Lu & John were sitting on each end of the Mekons half-circle, and as the whistling in Hole in the Ground started, they both looked out at the crowd, kept whistling, pulled out their ears and wiggled them. Everyone started whistling along, just another typical Friday night in St. Paul, city of whistlers. I love hearing Sally sing Oblivion. It's one of my favorites. Then, Lu took center stage for Thee Olde Trip, and he wailed on his saz and the whole band really just kicked it out. Fucking great. We were all primed up.

Then, the Mekons took a break and Mary Lucia and Greil Marcus came out to discuss music. The discussion was pretty interesting. However, I soon realized that I was sitting in a theater in the middle of a long row, right up front by the stage, listening to two people talking. In response to a question about Dylan, Greil started talking about Todd Haynes' film "I'm Not There." This is a film that I'm dying to see, but after a brief stint in town, it hasn't been shown and it won't be on DVD until May. Greil's description related to Dylan's Christian convergence and about how Bob maybe just wanted to hang with other people who looked at him as a simple believer rather than the "spokesman of a generation" or some other trappings of rock stardom. The discussion dragged on, though interesting, my beer was empty and I needed to use the bathroom, so I waited for Greil to wrap up his point, then in a moment of topic transition, made my way down the row and
out to the aisle and back up to the bathrooms. Unfortunately, my wife still had all the cash, so I had no money for another beer. Rather than disrupt the discussion, I hung out at the back of the hall to stretch my legs and listen. The theater was pretty full, but definitely not sold out. A once in a lifetime chance to see Greil & the Mekes wasn't as popular as Garrison Keillor and his regular radio show. It'd be a strange world if it were the other way around. When Mary & Greil wrapped up their talk, it was announced that there'd be a 15 minute break before the Mekons came out again. This led to more socializing as I ran into an old friend who I hadn't seen in a long time, and some other folks we knew. Plus, my wife had a chance to treat me to another beer.

After the intermission, Mary & Greil came out again, this time accompanied by Jon & Sally. They had a nice little discussion about music. Greil had slagged Lucinda Williams in the earlier discussion, and it turned out that Lucinda had just bought a bunch of Jon's paintings. That was funny. I also thought it was funny that Greil had said that no one should listen to what musicians say about their work and then he criticized Lucinda for always saying things to elicit a reaction, implying she was too mannered or somehow insincere. I guess I didn't really get it. I've seen Lucinda perform a number of great shows and she's written some really great songs, so I don't really get his beef with her, and I'm glad she's spreading the wealth Jon's way. The best topic of discussion was about seeing old bands reform and perform again, and Greil felt that in every instance he'd seen, save the Sex Pistols, the bands were still bringing that moment to the stage
when they first performed with a combination of terror and energy, ie doing a reunion show during middle age is just as challenging and awe inspiring as first attempting to perform at all in your youth. Though Sally said she'd seen a few instances where reunion shows weren't very good, Jon said that he'd seen the Gang of Four in Chicago and thought that they'd never played better. (It made me think of the great shows I'd seen by Mission of Burma and Rocket from the Tombs, and local legends Hypstrz & the Suburbs.) All the discussions were pretty good, but it was hard to sit there and just listen. There was no audience participation, no audience questions, so it was a great relief to have the Mekons finally pick up their instruments and start playing songs again.

I once again felt somewhat imprisoned in my seat, and without a beer in hand, I decided to start jotting down the songs on the little program we'd been given on the way in. So, here's the set list: Dickie, Chalkie and Nobby; Millionaire; Tina; Give Us Wine or Money; Wild & Blue; Diamonds; Cockermouth; The Hope & the Anchor; Slightly South of the Border; Ghosts of American Astronauts; Powers & Horror; Big Zombie.

The highlight of all this was Cockermouth, when Jon featured his dancing prowess a la Michael Flatley. My wife felt that Jon's shirt could have been a little longer, which might have spared her from seeing so much of his girth, though I reminded her it wasn't as much as when we'd seen him in a blue towel with "arse" written on it during the Mekons/Kathy Acker performance at Bumbershoot in Seattle in the 90s. But, we weren't so close then and Jon was a little more svelte. The dancing was hilarious, very entertaining, and the crowd called for more, but Sally wouldn't comply, and instead changed the pace by singing The Hope & the Anchor. All the songs were really great. They dedicated Slightly South of the Border to Tom, who Jon said had 700 children under the age of three, and that was the song that they missed Tom the most on. The line "small stupid children bring paper to life" had a different feel, and I think that Tom brings some magic to it all
with his delivery, but it was still good to hear.

After the show, the Mekons were out in the lobby. My friend Keating bought Greil Marcus' new book and was last in line to have him sign it, and then I ended up chatting with Rico Bell. I told him last time they were here it'd been his birthday, and we were hoping it wouldn't be so long for the Mekons to come back. I took a picture of Keating with Greil & Rico. Rico & Jon had an art gallery party organized at the Rogue Buddha Gallery in Nordeast Minneapolis, so it seemed that all the Mekons were headed over there. I'm sure that led to much merriment and possibly more music, but my wife & I couldn't make it over there. Perhaps someone else can let us know what happened in the late night wilds of Nordeast.

It was great to see the Mekons again. Like the show with Kathy Acker, it's fun to see them interact with writers, but, it's more fun to just see them in all their glory with entertaining stage banter as the only interruption to the music. When will they come again?

It's snowing in Minneapolis now. We're expected to get 6-8 inches through tomorrow. The Twins start the baseball season tonight at 6:05pm in the HumpDump, and so it goes in March in Minneapolis, where you never know what you're going to get, but somehow it's all good. Happy spring.

pac, lov and undrstanding (nvr giv up!)

Stv Ptrmir


Go to the top