When: Sat., May 4, 9 p.m. 2013
Last year Shoes seemed destined to get a big bump. The Numero Group did vinyl reissues of the first two LPs by the veteran power-pop devotees from Zion, Illinois—One in Versailles (1975) and Black Vinyl Shoes (1977)—along with another two albums of previously unreleased material from the years before the combo signed with Elektra Records in ’79. Real Gone Music also released a fat-free 21-track anthology called 35 Years—The Definitive Shoes Collection 1977-2012 that underscores the timelessness of the band’s ringing guitars and hooky melodies: only some dated synthesizers here and there make it easy to peg any of the music and production during that long span to any specific era. Giving the reissues extra weight was the band’s first new album in 18 years, the instant pop classic Ignition (Black Vinyl). Gary Klebe and brothers Jeff and John Murphy are operating at as high a level as ever. Their usual tales about romantic disappointments and emotional roller-coaster rides are lyrically darker and less spirited now, but the change suits the jangling guitars and pitch-perfect Beatlesque vocal harmonies—they sound like balms for loneliness. There are a couple of surprises—including the beefy post-Stones riffing on “Hot Mess” and the minor-key introspection on “Out of Round,” a song inspired by the sudden death of a friend of Jeff Murphy—but for the most part the band’s refined sound is closer to vintage Nick Lowe than to Cheap Trick. And in keeping with Shoes’ tradition of ignoring music-biz standards, they’re just now getting around to playing a Chicago gig—eight months after the release of Ignition and five years after their last area show. —Peter Margasak Green opens.