Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fink broods; Liz Phair talks dirty

First up: Fink. I saw the man play at the supremely wonderful Joe's Pub recently. It was good to break out of my usual female singer/songwriter rut, and I must say, sitting only a few feet away from him as I was, I was a little taken with his unapologetically masculine presence on the stage. He struck me as a staunchly old-school bloke - the anti-metrosexual if you like - with his shorn head, wiry form, beer-swilling, anti-fashion uniform of grey sweat top and dirty grey jeans and occassional self-conscious "nice one". His lyrics are (in keeping with his sartorial style) simple and direct, tending towards the everyday - being late for work, buying maple syrup from Asda (or not), perving at girls (in the sexy sexy Pretty Little Thing) - but his voice and guitar playing elevate the songs to another level altogether. Deep, bruising and hypnotic. Shudder. Catch him live if you can; some of his magic is lost in the recording process.

Then there is Ms Liz Phair: a pint-sized dynamo striding the stage at the Hiro Ballroom in leather vest, hotpants and cork wedges. How rock and roll is that?!

I love Liz for the honesty in her music and voice, her brazen sexuality and the f*ck-you attitude that has gotten her into trouble on more than one occassion. This gig was a celebration of the re-release of Exile in Guyville, with Liz and her all-male back up rocking through every song on the album - from 6ft 1in to Strange Loop. I have to confess, despite the fact that Supernova was one song guaranteed to get me on the dance floor in the 90's (the others were Sabotage and Connection), the first album I bought of hers was the comparitively mild-mannered Somebody's Miracle, and that was only a few years ago. However, it was interesting enough that I have been catching up on her past releases ever since.

This gig was my first introduction to Exile, so unlike many devout fans in the crowd, I couldn't sing along rapturously. However, as an Exile-virgin, the stand-out songs for me were (typically) the slower, sadder ones: Glory, Dance of the Seven Veils, Canary, Girls! Girls! Girls!, and Gunshy; and then there was the dirty shock of Flower (whoa momma!) and of course the infamous Fuck and Run.

Lord, why did no one introduce me to this - the ultimate collection of pissed off break-up songs - when I was 23 and torn up with misdirected anger and confusion?

Both Liz and Fink mentioned how great it was to be in New York, and how much they loved the New York crowds; and both mentioned previous lacklustre gigs in Chicago (Liz) and Pittsburgh (Fink). Sadly, my time in New York will shortly be at an end.

Damn, I'm going to miss this town.

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