Big Star Superb Show For Bargain Price
(Yikes! This is horribly written but of interest, I suppose, to latter-day Big Star fans. The back story: By midweek, the band was so loathed by managers of the venue they were fired. No one was dancing; no one was buying drinks. The next morning, the account below appeared in the college paper, and the nervous club-owners, expecting a big crowd, hired the band back for two more nights. Not that it made much of a difference. –dd)
Big Star, a relatively new band that has released two superb albums, has been at the Brewery since Tuesday and will continue its gig through Sunday.
It is a rare moment when a band as talented as Big Star plays even a concert-priced one-night stand in East Lansing; it is all the more remarkable that the group has been contracted by the Brewery for a week-long stint. Considering that there has been no cover charge throughout the week, it seems incredible that the place hasn’t been jam-packed every night
It truly should be. Big Star’s first two performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night showed that the band is a tremendously talented musical unit.
Despite its apparent instrumental limitations–guitar, bass and drums–Big Star manages to project an extremely rich, full sound that is quite unusual for a three-man group. The band opened its performance with a driving rendition of “You Get What You Deserve,” from their most recent album Radio City and carried on strongly from that point.
Lead singer and guitarist Alex Chilton seems to give the impression of a musician who is just having fun playing the music he loves. Certainly Chilton loves his music–all his own compositions were performed beautifully–but it is even more commendable that Big Star sees fit to play compositions that are not original which generally seem to fit its musical groove.
Thus the group’s performance of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and “Sitting In The Midday Sun,” along with Lou Reed’s “Candy Says,” “Sweet Jane” and “The Bed,” seemed to be suitably effective in its set, as did Loudon Wainwright’s “Motel Blues.” In fact, it was sometimes more fun guessing from what source the next piece that was not original would emanate than hearing the tune itself. The group did a fine job of revealing its main sources of inspiration.
Occasionally Chilton would pull out and electric twelve-string guitar while his fellow band members walked offstage, and played a short acoustic set that came off remarkably well.
Unfortunately acoustic sets don’t always come across too well with the Brewery’s usual patronage, so it seemed a shame that an otherwise perfect set was marred by occasionally obnoxious audience chatter.
Chilton, who is only 23, has had a rather interesting past. As lead vocalist with the ’60s Box Tops, he sang the million-seller “The Letter,” along with several other successful singles like “Cry Like A Baby” and “Neon Rainbow.” To close the show Wednesday night, Big Star played “The Letter” and appeared to have great fun doing it.
Big Star seems to have a bright future. It seems only a matter of time before the group receives the public acceptance it so obviously deserves. The band has received unanimous critical adulation for its two albums on Ardent Records, and if the performances this week at the Brewery are any indication, Big Star, with just a little more exposure, will have no trouble making it big.
(Michigan State News, 4/12/1974)