red lights

Concert Livewire
basement tapes concert reviews cd reviews interviewsticket swap music news

A heralded songbook that stands
the test of time

Randy Newman
Park West
Chicago, IL
February 26, 2011
Randy Newman Randy Newman

Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

In the eight years since Randy Newman last hit the road, he's added numerous feathers to an already decorated cap. Besides his award count increasing to six Grammys, three Emmys and an Academy Award, the singer/songwriter released 2008's fresh batch Harps and Angels (Nonesuch), while gearing up for this May's The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2, which once again reinterprets his rich catalogue. Even at 67, the spry, New Orleans-inspired L.A. native is still most comfortable in front of a crowd, turning the cozy Park West into his literal living room while pining through over 30 songs across a two act evening.

Part one served as a mechanism to establish a relationship with the audience thanks to a plethora of cult hits mixed with lesser known but equally engaging narratives. Newman's sense of wit leaped off the page come "It's the Money That I Love," a surprisingly early inclusion of "Short People," and later, "Political Science," joyously hearkening back to the day when politically correct catch phrases weren't even invented. Additional variety came courtesy of the straight forward ballad "Marie," which oozed with romantic sentiment, "You Can Leave Your Hat On," albeit not as strong as Joe Cocker's even more popular remake, and the recent "Harps and Angels," a colorful ode to the afterlife.

Come the second half, Newman was all warmed up as he unfurled the Toy Story soundtrack smash "You've Got a Friend In Me," the boogie-woogie romp "Dixie Flyer" and the laugh out loud commentary "Rednecks." The troubadour kicked up his passionate delivery during the night's emotional pinnacle "Louisiana, 1927," which was particularly poignant in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Warhorses like "Mama Told Me Not To Come" and "Guilty" only added to Newman's quirky appeal and storytelling prowess.

By the end of the two hour-plus affair, the response was so rapturous that Newman could've very well started from scratch with another 30 tracks given his treasured backlog. Nonetheless, he was more than satisfying and generous, and no matter the genre performed or the generation a particular tune appealed to, Newman's songs are sure to thrive long after he's gone.

Related articles:

Randy Newman - Concert review - Chicago, IL Oct. 2003

Randy Newman

What Do You Think?



City & State:

e mail:

Here's Your Chance to.... Respond!

Your feedback will be featured on
Rant or Rave within 24 hours.

Return to Reviews
Return to Menu