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Live Review and Photo Gallery: Spoon with Margaret Glaspy at Riviera Theatre • Chicago

| April 21, 2022


Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Review by Jeff Elbel. Photos by Curt Baran.

Spoon traveled to Chicago on Tuesday and visited the Riviera Theater for a hotly anticipated and sold-out concert in support of its new album Lucifer on the Sofa. “All right! Chicago turned up,” said beaming frontman Britt Daniel after an ovation for the chugging garage-rock boogie of new song “The Hardest Cut.” The singer and guitarist appreciated that lingering hints of wintry weather couldn’t keep local fans away. “I know there’s been colder months, but it’s still cold out there. Thank you for standing in that line,” said the Austin, Texas resident, referring to the lengthy wait outdoors and around the block before showtime.

The audience was treated to more than half of the songs from Spoon’s new album, which has been praised by many as the group’s best since 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Set opener and new album track “Held” found Smog’s vulnerable 1999 original recast in Spoon’s image, augmenting Bill Callahan’s heavy pop groove with taut bass, chopped chords, a sharp riff, ominous piano, and Daniel’s siren-like guitar lead.

Among Daniel’s versatile bandmates, multi-instrumentalist Alex Fischel was the most conspicuous stage presence. Fischel twitched and convulsed like a madman and rattled his bones across the rim of the stage while playing clattering guitar solos to songs like “The Devil & Mr. Jones.” He kneeled as if in supplication while playing the grinding organ riff anchoring the catchy and urgent “Small Stakes.”

Ben Trokan was the band’s cool and reliable bassist, singing harmony vocals and anchoring the body-moving groove to favorites like the blissful-sounding “Do You.” Fischel and Daniel played intertwining guitar parts during “Don’t You Evah,” while Trokan and founding drummer Jim Eno held the song’s slacker-pop groove. Daniel concluded the song with knee drops, raising his Fender Telecaster overhead.

Gerardo Larios stuck to his riser at the back, playing integral parts on glistening electric piano, guitar, vocal, and percussion. Larios traded guitar solos with Fischel and Daniel during the emotive “My Babe” and unleashed a spine-tingling lead for “The Hardest Cut,” earning a call-out from Daniel. Fischel played a demented, space-rock keyboard solo during “Don’t Make Me a Target.” The band members flashed smiles around the stage at each other, relishing playing before an enthusiastic and packed house.

Led by piano and hypnotic organ, the bristling “My Mathematical Mind” was propelled by Eno’s perfectly primitive percussion. Unfettered by his guitar for the song, Daniel prowled the stage with microphone in hand, peering into the crowd. He guided the band through arrangement twists, elevating the sound to a fever pitch and bringing it down to a whisper.

Daniel donned an acoustic guitar for “The Underdog,” and found himself joined by thousands of voices from the crowd. Following the romantic acoustic strummer “I Summon You,” Daniel revealed some challenging circumstances. “I can tell this is gonna be a special night for my throat,” he said with a laugh. “I may sound like Joe Strummer by the end, but we’re not gonna stop.” Despite a bit of hoarseness that interfered with the occasional high note or falsetto croon, Daniel gave his all to the Chicago audience with appreciation and high spirits. He sounded a bit under the weather during the grim lurch of “The Beast and Dragon Adored,” but Eno’s piledriver drumbeat and tight interplay by the band gave the song maximum impact. “Inside Out” was a soulful R&B crooner that was actually given a bit of extra vulnerability by the rasp skirting the edge of Daniel’s voice.

The crowd joined again to sing the terse funk of “I Turn My Camera On” before Spoon concluded the main set with Eno’s caveman beat and the unhinged, go-for-broke energy of “Got Nuffin.”

The band returned for an encore of fan-favorite deep tracks, beginning with “Black Like Me.” The band followed with a surprise performance of “The Fitted Shirt” from 2001’s Girls Can Tell. Afterward, Daniel said it felt especially good to play the vintage cut for fans in Chicago. “When Girls Can Tell came out, Chicago was one of the towns that really took to us,” Daniel recalled early shows at the Empty Bottle and a two-night stand at the intimate Abbey Pub. The band concluded with the new song “Wild.” The tale of wanderlust echoed the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man,” featuring a rousing and euphoric chorus.

But that wasn’t all. The band reappeared for a second encore, and Daniel again expressed special thanks to the band’s faithful friends in Chicago. “It’s a pleasure to play in front of an audience like this, thank you,” he said. Chilled-out title track “Lucifer on the Sofa” glided along with glistening electric piano while Daniel’s lyrics imagined the devil enticing him toward inertia, surrender, and uselessness. Daniel cast the image against a walk through the empty streets of Austin, Texas, seeking to escape pandemic isolation. Next came a rowdy performance of the bouncing “The Way We Get By.” Daniel put his guitar down to stand atop his monitor speakers and lead the voices at the Riviera. Leaning over the edge of the stage, he offered a wink to a young woman in the front row. The show concluded with the potent blues-rock crunch of “Rent I Pay.” Trokan planted his bass headstock into the floor, and Daniel brought the band to a stop with a final, Pete Townshend-styled leap.

Margaret Glaspy led a tight trio during an opening set packed with punchy, personal, and socially aware guitar-based pop. Highlights included the defiant “Situation,” poison pen letter “Vicious,” and “You and I” with its doomed tale of unmatched expectations within a relationship. Glaspy earned strong responses when concluding her set with a loping pop anthem of protest and empowerment called “My Body My Choice.”


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