Sign up for newsletter

Phair ages very well

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., June 6, 2018

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Other recent concert reviews
Liz Phair may be about twice as old now as she was when she released her seminal indie rock disc, "Exile in Guyville," a female's response to the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street."

But at 51, Phair showed that both she and her disc have aged quite well. In fact, in a 65-minute long sold-out show (no surprise given that the club only holds about 525 people), Phair and her sidekick, guitarist Connor Sullivan, were a formidable tour de force.

They created quite the sound despite only being a duo. There was a fullness to the music created by them. Phair and Sullivan let the songs breathe, allowing the songs to build time and again.

Phair started with her overtly sexual "Fuck or Die," concluding the song with Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line." (Phair expropriated the song structure for the beginning of "Fuck or Die") and proceeded to play a chunk more from "Exile," She also played a few songs from her 1991 self-released tapes recorded as the "Girly-Sound" moniker, which was just released in its entirety.

One of the keys of the night was the variety from song to song. While the songs had a rock edge due to solid guitar play, there was also often a pop sensibility with Phair's vocal delivery built for that.

Phair has said she suffers from stage fright, but that was far from the case on this evening. She was a relaxed, comfortable down-to-earth performer, easily bantering and joking with the crowd. It was very diverse from many young females not even born when "Exile" came out to a segment who grew up with it.

This was one fine night for Phair and fans. No wonder she was slapping palms as she exited the stage.

Soccer Mommy was an appropriate opener for Phair. Aka Sophie Allison, she played solo electric guitar with the headliner an obvious influence. Allison has enjoyed a buzz and at some level deservedly so although she came off as a work in progress.

Allison certainly could have benefited from mixing it up a lot more stylistically. There was a lot of sameness to her material, so much so that at one point she acknowledged changing the tuning "to change it up a bit." Allison ended well, but could take a few more pointers from Phair in terms of diversity.