The Shoes have been making great power pop since 1975, though the band has largely gone unnoticed by the public at large. They’ve kept at it, however, even if their recording and concert pace has been pretty sporadic for the past couple of decades. The group, which originally formed in Zion, Ill., re-emerged last year with a fine record of new songs called Ignition, while the Numero Group reissued some of the band’s early records and the Real Gone label released 35 Years: The Definitive Shoes Collection 1977-2012.
Amid this resurgence of activity, Shoes finally got around to playing a local concert last night (May 4), performing at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.
It was the first time Shoes had played a Chicago-area concert since a 2007 gig in Millennium Park. (I was there for that show, too.) When they played six years ago, I wrote that “they did not sound the least bit rusty,” and that was just as true last night. Shoes sounded quite sharp as they delivered shiny guitar riffs, catchy vocal melodies and harmonies, and the new songs from <i>Ignition</i> stood up quite well alongside great oldies like “Tomorrow Night.” An enthusiastic bunch of Shoes fans filled the room, clearly delighted when the Shoes came back for two encores.
The opening act was another excellent Chicago-area band that seldom performs, Green, who made the superb 1987 album <i>Elaine MacKenzie</i>, among other fine recordings. I’m not sure when their last gig was, but I had managed to see Green only once before — at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, something like 24 years ago. The band was in top form on Saturday at FitzGerald’s, and the Green fans clustered near the front of the stage seemed ecstatic to be seeing this band on a stage again after all these years. In additional to old Green songs, the band played covers of two Buzzcocks tunes and one by Nick Drake — a somewhat odd choice, but a good indication of the band’s range of influences.