The Vaselines, who played Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Empty Bottle, are one of the best rock-band reunions of recent years. Barely noticed outside of Scotland when they were together the first time — for a few years in the 1980s — they gained more fans when Nirvana covered three of their songs. The original duo, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, came back together several years ago. And by now, the reunited Vaselines have released two albums of new material, sounding very much like the Vaselines of old, except with higher production values and better-tuned guitars.
Last week at the Bottle, they played a fun set of old and new songs, plus McKee’s cheeky stage banter. She said she’s been enjoying talking with Vaselines fans at the mercy table each night during this tour. “You’re the fucking weirdest audience so far,” she told the Chicago crowd. “Well done.”
When it came time for the Vaselines to sing their most famous song, “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam,” McKee forgot a verse in the middle of the tune. Afterward, Kelly — who’d been the butt of most of McKee’s jokes all night long — said, “Jesus Christ almighty! What happened there? We beg your forgiveness!” That was the only stumble during a lively set of catchy songs. All is forgiven, guys.