Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Nov 19th 2009 11:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
The first, 'The Ballad of El Goodo,' came midway through the quartet's 20-song set. "There ain't no one gonna turn me 'round," Chilton sang, his voice calm and reassuring, like that of an old friend. The line would make an apt, if clunky, title for an autobiography, should the 58-year-old decide to write one.
Three songs later, Chilton strummed out a tender and luminous 'Thirteen.' Ostensibly about an adolescent crush, the tune doubles as a love letter to the music that, since his tenure fronting the Box Tops in the late '60s, has kept Chilton in the studio and on the road, even in the absence of the commercial success many believe he deserves. When he sang, "Rock 'n' roll is here to stay," his very presence onstage proved those words true.
Chilton formed the modern-day version of Big Star in 1993, some 20 years after the original lineup called it quits. Over a three-year stretch in the early '70s, the Memphis-based group recorded two wildly influential albums, '#1 Record' and 'Radio City,' neither of which stirred in mainstream listeners the passion they did in critics and aspiring musicians. A third full-length, 'Third/Sister Lovers,' cut after the departure of Chilton's songwriting partner, Chris Bell, collected dust until the late '70s, as misguided label executives deemed it unworthy of release.
Featuring founding drummer Jody Stephens and ringers Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow -- the guitarist and bassist, respectively, from Chilton disciples the Posies -- the "new" Big Star is faithful to the old material, even without Bell, who died in a car crash in 1978. The band opened loud and loose with 'In the Street,' as if to satiate anyone that bought a ticket simply to hear the theme song from 'That '70s Show.'
Of course, cult acts don't tend to draw casual fans, and the capacity crowd cheered as loud, if not louder, for such tunes as 'Feel' and 'September Gurls.' Chilton closed, fittingly, with 'Thank You Friends,' a hat-tip to die-hards for decades of support.
The audience was happy to return the gratitude, clapping and howling well after the encore had ended and the houselights had gone up.