Concrete Blonde, 6/12/2010, Vic Theater, Chicago, IL


I’ve never been what I would call the ‘target market’ for Concrete Blonde.  I don’t care about vampire songs, the recurrent anti-religious and “be true to yourself” lyrical themes have never done much for me, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a young single woman looking for a role model (let me check….nope), or whatever other demographic trends towards them.

But they’ve always been one of my favorite bands and for a number of reasons.  The guitarist John Mankey has always been solid, there’s the “don’t mind the details” nostalgic reasons why their songs have resonated for me, but, let’s face it, the biggest reason is that Johnette Napolitano can sing the f&^k out of a song (the tight, slinky black thing she was wearing tonight points to another reason but that would sound sexist if I mentioned it, so I won’t).

The opening act was someone named Jim Bianco.  He played an entirely acoustic set, and noted that it might have seemed strange, though he had a long partnership with Napolitano.  His set was actually pretty good and he had a nice give and take with the crowd (“This is a love song…does a Concrete Blonde crowd mind if I play a slow ballad?   Okay, that’s two of you, this one goes out to you.  It’s a song about when I was in love.  And addicted to Vicodin.  I hope you like it”… it was funny).  It’s worth checking out his stuff.

Since this was only the 4th show in the ‘20 years of Bloodletting’ tour, the only set list I had seen was from their first show in Boston, but what they performed went beyond that.  The crowd was pretty hot and mixed in terms of age and gender.  The first encore set was entirely acoustic, which actually went off really well.  As always, Johnette sang the f&*k out of the songs.

Except for one obvious flub (which unfortunately occurred in my favorite song of theirs “Heal It Up” when she forgot the lyrics to the second verse and had to direct the band to skip it), the band was hot.  Mankey’s playing was crisp (and loud), the drummer (someone I’ve never heard of) was solid, and Johnette, well, she sang the f^&k out of it.  For the first encore, Johnette didn’t play bass, and it was only drums and Mankey on acoustic guitar, and featured an outstanding version of “Tomorrow, Wendy” (it also allowed her to, well, slink around more).  There wasn’t a lot of interaction with the crowd, she thanked the Vic for years of great memories, and did ask the crowd “Did your team win?”, and seemed genuinely grateful for some of the thunderous applause. 


  • Bloodletting
  • Joey
  • I Don’t Need a Hero
  • Days and Days
  • Lullabye
  • Scene of the Perfect Crime
  • Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man
  • Someday?
  • Everybody Knows
  • Caroline
  • When I was a Fool
  • God is a Bullet
  • Run Run Run
  • Little Wing
  • Heal It Up
  • Your Haunted Head
  • First Encore
  • Mexican Moon
  • Happy Birthday
  • True
  • Tomorrow, Wendy
  • Second Encore
  • Still in Hollywood

It was a very good show.  If you’re a Concrete Blonde fan, I’d definitely go to a show.  Who knows if they’ll ever tour again, so enjoy it while it lasts.

posted on Sunday, June 13, 2010 12:38 AM Print
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