When you see the enthusiasm of Ike Reilly’s fans — the way they recognize his catchiest songs, the way they sing along, the way they shout out, “I love you, Ike!” — it seems clear that this guy could be a star. The reality is, however, that he’s more of a hidden treasure. Reilly, who still lives in his hometown of Libertyville up in Lake County, has a pretty good following here in Chicago and some other places, but like most indie-label artists, he doesn’t get all the radio airplay that he deserves.
Reilly has a strong album out called Hard Luck Stories, and he wrapped up a string of four Monday-night concerts at Schubas this week. The room filled up pretty well for a Monday evening, and it was obvious that some of Reilly’s true believers were in attendance. Although one of Reilly’s musicians was absent for the night, his band (the Ike Reilly Assassination) delivered the songs in lean, tight performances. In his gruff voice, Reilly sang his story songs about characters that seem so real. And he hooked his audience with the catchy choruses of shoulda-been hits like “When Irish Eyes are Burning.”
My only complaint: I was hoping to hear a song from Reilly’s new record that’s been caught in my mind lately, “The Ballad of Jack and Haley.” Oh, well, I guess I should have requested it online beforehand, which is how some of the fans at Schubas got to hear their Reilly faves.