Screaming Blue Messiahs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Screaming Blue Messiahs

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The production was all wrong on this English trio's first album and the songwriting is off on their second, but tonight that's almost irrelevant because onstage this group's songs become secondary to their sound. Over the fast-paced primal throb of some heavy bass and drums, the big, bald, and blue-suited lead singer/guitarist, Bill Carter, throws out mean, cutting guitar licks only to sweep them away a moment later with a thick pile of barehanded, ringing chords, and the combination triggers that old rock 'n' roll endocrine rush with near-scientific precision. To me, the music of these ex-pub rockers sounds like blues-punk, a natural yet altogether original combination of the search for temporal ecstasy found in R & B with punk's equally temporal obsession with everything nasty, brutish, and short. Like both blues and old-time punk, this music is grungy, simple, repetitive, and familiar, and yet when you see Carter spin across the stage like a whirling dervish, slamming on his ax as the rhythm section pounds away furiously behind him, it's also as new and as thrilling as music need be in these days of we've-heard-it-all-before exhaustion. Tonight, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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