Robert Forster & Grant McLennan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Robert Forster & Grant McLennan


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In 1977, when Robert Forster and Grant McLennan founded the Go-Betweens, they weren't merely looking to satisfy their artistic aspirations: they wanted a ticket out of town. They were a couple of teenage misfits in Brisbane, Australia, whose enthusiasm for foreign films and New York punk put them painfully at odds with the city's culture of macho conformity and government corruption. The band did get them out of Brisbane, but the duo's ironic, literate songs--which, appropriately, were often about ardent but ultimately hopeless romance--fit no better into the 1980s pop landscape than Forster and McLennan had fit into their hometown. And the modest (and long-overdue) commercial success of their gorgeously melodic final album, 16 Lovers Lane, in 1988 didn't prevent the band from breaking up a little over a year later. But just like the protagonists in the Go-Betweens' "To Reach Me" and "Love Is a Sign," Forster and McLennan can't stay apart: they periodically reunite to tour as an acoustic duo, playing their old tunes as well as material from their recent solo albums. This concert, their first Chicago appearance together since an early 90s opening slot for Lloyd Cole, is part of a tour to plug two archival releases. Bellavista Terrace: Best of the Go-Betweens spans the band's career, capping off Beggars Banquet's comprehensive series of Go-Betweens reissues; the uninitiated will find it a handy primer, but its curious song choices could frustrate old fans. Fortunately, for them there's 78 'til 79: The Lost Album (Jetset), which collects some early two-track bedroom sessions and the Go-Betweens' first two singles, both self-financed, for the long-gone Able Label. There's no opening act. Saturday, 7 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160. BILL MEYER

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

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