From the moment 10,000 Maniacs returned with “Music From The Motion Picture” in 2013, its first studio long player in 14 years, the group that helped define the college rock/early alternative/jangle pop sounds alongside R.E.M., Crowded House and The Replacements has kept incredibly busy. In 2015, the band dropped “Twice Told Tales” (a collection of British Isles folk songs), embarked upon a 35th anniversary tour the following year and also recorded the results on the subsequent “Playing Favorites” concert album.
By the time “These Are Days” rolled around, many were on their feet, and those who weren’t instantly joined them by an encore of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” which sounded like it very well could’ve been a 10,000 Maniacs tune all along.
While the soundtrack was primarily featured in 10,000 Maniacs late show on Friday (one of four sell outs at the esteemed City Winery that’s quickly becoming an annual tradition), 2017 also marks the 30th anniversary of the group’s breakthrough project “In My Tribe” (also on frequent display). Add in the fact it was Valentine’s weekend, and there was perhaps no place better to start than “Because The Night” (since it “belongs to lovers”) courtesy of early era members Dennis Drew (keyboard), Steven Gustafson (bass), Jerome Augustyniak (drums) and John Lombardo (guitar), longtime singer/viola player Mary Ramsey (who took over for Natalie Merchant), plus additional guitarist Jeff Erickson (brought aboard following Rob Buck’s passing) and touring violin player/vocalist Inga Yanoski.
The romantic theme would return on occasion, including 10,000 Maniacs’ second-ever attempt at Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” though in between, there were many more previous and present selections to address, including “Trouble Me,” “When We Walked On Clouds,” Roxy Music’s “More Than This” and “What’s The Matter Here?” All the while, the group and audience were both in a cheery mood, sparking lots of spontaneous banter and an exclusive set list to ensure enough variety for die-hards attending multiple shows.
One welcome surprise came in a cover of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme song, “Love Is All Around,” after which Ramsey tossed up a cap in the air out of the tribute to the late actress (and then laughed as she missed catching it). She also shared a story about the band receiving a huge box of chocolates backstage, and while she was disappointed many of the pieces were now fingerprinted from everyone poking around for their favorite flavors, the episode allowed for a silver platter setup to “Candy Everybody Wants.”
By the time “These Are Days” rolled around, many were on their feet, and those who weren’t instantly joined them by an encore of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” which sounded like it very well could’ve been a 10,000 Maniacs tune all along. The band was also in extra passionate form as “Hey Jack Kerouac” wrapped the 100-minute performance that found this incarnation right on par with the prior days of exploring Eden or unplugging for MTV.
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For additional information on 10,000 Maniacs, visit Maniacs.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include 10,000 Maniacs (Feb. 11); Geoff Tate (Feb. 12); Great Moments In Vinyl (Feb. 13); Syleena Johnson (Feb. 14); Doyle Bramhall II (Feb. 15); Kruger Brothers (Feb. 16); Head For The Hills (Feb. 17); The Verve Pipe (Feb. 18); Chicago Philharmonic Brunch (Feb. 19); Paris Combo (Feb. 19); Film Screening: “Gimme Danger” (Feb. 20); Chicago Flamenco Festival Kick Off (Feb. 21); Ana Popovic (Feb. 22); Assad Brothers (Feb. 23); Vanessa Carlton (Feb. 24); Sam Fazio (Feb. 26); Jack Ingram (Feb. 26); Jeannie Tanner (Feb. 27) and Kathy Mattea (Feb. 28). For additional details, visit CityWinery.com/Chicago.