Tom Waits | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

His name is bolted onto the short list of greatest living American songwriters, he has a voice so recognizable he's successfully sued companies for using soundalikes in commercials, and he's enjoyed an acting career that would be respectable even if he'd never had his day job. But Tom Waits's neatest trick has been constructing a persona that's as inexplicably stubborn, poetically compulsive, and cussedly elusive as any character he's created--"What's He Building?" indeed. Chicago has been relatively lucky when it comes to glimpsing this rare bird--most recently during a two-night stand in 1999--but his current eight-city tour stops in places that haven't seen the man since the 70s. Orphans, a box set of rarities he's described as "a lot of songs that fell behind the stove while making dinner," is due in October from Anti-. My magic Waits-ball, when it's not intoning "future is hazy" in a wheezy, broken voice, says to expect a few skeletons from the closet, as well as material from the bone-rattling 2004 disc Real Gone and the 2002 concept albums Alice and Blood Money. Wed 8/9, 8 PM, Auditorium Theatre, Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress, 312-922-2110, sold out.

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