Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

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By now Robyn Hitchcock's fans probably know better than to expect much in the way of surprises. The 2004 disc Spooked, a spare, countrified, and diamond-sharp excursion with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, was a nice changeup, but on his "twenty-somethingth" album, Ole! Tarantula (Yep Roc), Hitchcock is back to his usual brand of oddity: his shimmering and infectious psychedelic pop tunes, full of lines and imagery that would stop traffic coming from most people, occasionally seem overly familiar from him now. These days his records have to be measured by how well he's marshaled his uncanny ability to whip out strings of songs that could keep cover-hungry college bands busy for years, and on that front Ole! Tarantula does pretty well: it ranks far higher than other recent discs like Jewels for Sophia or the Soft Boys' fairly flat reunion album, Nextdoorland, though it lacks the graceful eeriness of 1996's Moss Elixir. His new backing band, the Venus 3, includes guitarist Peter Buck of R.E.M. (longtime friends and advocates of Hitchcock's) plus two members of R.E.M.'s touring lineup, bassist and keyboardist Scott McCaughey and drummer Bill Rieflin. Mark Pickerel opens. a 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $24.50, 18+.

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