Pere Ubu/John Cale | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Pere Ubu/John Cale

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While "art rock" is usually neither, Pere Ubu and John Cale are both. Sure, the first time you hear Pere Ubu's plump, stately David Thomas crooning like an aroused mountain goat in hot pursuit of Allen Ravensteine's spooky synthesizer fills, these newly revitalized Ohio veterans might seem like long shots to get your mojo working. Listen closely, though, and the band reveals a startling musical vocabulary that's as original now as it was in their heyday a decade ago. For instance, in what may have been my favorite concert moment of 1987, Thomas introduced the "metaphysical" part of Pere Ubu's Manhattan reunion show by belting out an insanely catchy Spike Jones-meets-Captain Beefheart trombone solo, followed by an inanely loopy William Carlos Williams-meets-Dr. Seuss monologue, followed by the best Velvets-meet-Stooges lurch and grind I've ever heard. John Cale, a former Tanglewood prodigy, who cofounded the Velvets, produced the Stooges, and resembles Lurch, divides his time between wistful balladry and raving madness, sometimes within the same song. Cale's wildly diverse live sets typically range from songs that sound like PBS specials to feedback-drenched free association to Boris Karloff-style deconstructions of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Streets of Laredo." Tonight, 11 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Deborah Trebittz.

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