Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Graham Parker Live at Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival

If Graham Parker was dismayed by the relatively small turnout for his 5:30PM set last Sunday at the Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival, it didn’t show in his performance. He was after all, competing against the much more heavily hyped Lollapalooza, which was about a half hour’s drive to the south. Plus, the intimate setting, on a temporary stage in a parking lot on Racine Street, suited his one-man show perfectly.


Regarded as one of the original angry young men along with Elvis Costello, Parker came across as cordial, funny, and at times, brutally honest. He was also in great voice. Strumming his acoustic guitar, Parker sang an odds and sods collection of stuff he normally wouldn’t have done with a full band. Switching to electric guitar about halfway through the show, he started reeling off his better known songs, such as “Passion Is No Ordinary Word,” “Life Gets Better” (which he joked afterward was a stupid song because it wasn’t true), “Don’t Ask Me Questions,” and “Problem Child.” Surprisingly, he didn’t perform “Can’t Take Love For Granted.”

Noting that 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of his critically acclaimed Squeezing Out Sparks LP, Parker claimed the milestone was being celebrated around the world, particularly in the northern-most part of Scandinavia. “In fact,” he added, seeming to ad lib as he went along, “this show is being simulcast there right now, so everybody wave to the cameras.” Several people in the audience went along with gag. It’s a safe bet that if the folks in upper Scandinavia had actually caught a simulcast, they would have thoroughly enjoyed it.

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