Liz Phair at the El Rey
I saw Liz Phair at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on Friday night. I’d never seen her live before. I don’t think she’s toured much through the years. And I’d heard a rumor early in her career that she just flat out didn’t play live back then. I always liked that story. I think I felt a bit of stage fright or tour fright even then and I liked to find examples of other musicians who didn’t play live often. (Andy Partridge from XTC being the other big example.)
I could go on an album by album gush about her. Since Guyville and Whip-Smart pretty much cemented her in my psyche, she’s been one of those songwriters I just flat-out admire. She’s also taken a lot of shit from critics over the years. Most recently, for the song “Bollywood” on her new album Funstyle on which she “raps.” Not in a Fergie way, just a playful, silly way.
But anyway, there was nothing wacky or silly about the show. It was just straight-up rock through the hits. She opened with “Supernova” and quickly hit “6′ 1″,” “Divorce Song,” “Never Said,” “Stratford-on-guy,” “Nashville,” “Polyester Bride,” and “Fuck and Run.” There were only two from Funstyle (that I remember): “Oh, Bangladesh” and “And He Slayed Her.” I’m leaving out a whole bunch of others. “Extraordinary” and “Why Can’t I” from the eponymous album.
The band was Liz, a guitarist, bassist and drummer. No goofy loops or keyboards or anything. It was a really solid rock show. They played for about an hour and came back out to do a two song encore closing with “Flower.”
I fricking loved it. The band was tight and so was the set. A bunch of pop songs from a great songwriter — that’s all I want to hear.