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College rock pioneers showcase sweet sophistication
on first new album tour in 14 years

10,000 Maniacs
City Winery
Chicago, IL
May 17, 2013
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Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

Even though 10,000 Maniacs have remained a consistent presence on the road, this year marks its first outing in support of a new album since 1999. Thankfully, the incredibly overdue "Music From The Motion Picture" finds the five piece jangle pop/folk rock outfit in fantastic form, turning in a slew of sophisticated songs perfect for cocktail sipping at the exceptionally beautiful City Winery, all wrapped around plenty of introspective observations on the ensuring years that have passed.

These days, the group's line-up consists of singer/viola player Mary Ramsey (who first took the reigns in 1993), original keyboardist Dennis Drew, fellow co-founding bassist Steven Gustafson, drummer since 1983 Jerome Augustyniak and guitarist since 2001 Jeffery Erickson. Yet even with the passing of original guitarist Rob Buck and the loss of first front woman Natalie Merchant to a solo career, the group's sound and independent ethos remains the same.

In fact, the group's going the self-released route these days and revolved the sold out show around new tunes like "When We Walked On Clouds," "Whippoorwill" and "Triangles," which as served as textbook examples of how a band that's been around for awhile can age gracefully. Of course, members also poured through several meaningful moments from the past like "What's The Matter Here?" and "Trouble Me," which weren't just integral in shaping the college rock movement right alongside the likes of The Police or R.E.M., but also sounded just as satisfying three decades later.

Then again, 10,000 Maniacs have always studied the greats, most readily demonstrated through a sublime cover of Roxy Music's "More Than This," a striking take on Patti Smith's "Because The Night" and even a surprise, viola-centered stab at Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Along with the group's own horn-infused "Candy Everybody Wants," the equally engaging alt-rocker "Hey Jack Kerouac" and the all out anthem "These Are The Days" to round out the near two hour night, it was apparent that 10,000 Maniacs need to keep the momentum going and not let the next trip to the studio take as long as the last one.

Related articles:

Chris Isaak / Natalie Merchant - Concert review - Tinley Park, IL June 2002
Natalie Merchant - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI June 2002
Natalie Merchant - Concert review - Chicago, IL December 2001

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