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Joan Osborne
A Concert Review

May 10, 1996

The Riviera

Chicago, IL

A Review by Stu Gotz
Photos by
The Dude on the Right
I always thought I had the best job in the world until I saw two chick cops at the Joan Osborne concert. There they were - dressed in Chicago blue, shinny shields, kevlar vests, leather jackets, and big guns. Oh yea, they were carrying side arms also. Aside from wanting the blonde officer in an intimate way,Joan Osbornes Photo 1 I also wanted her job. She gets to kick Chicago punk ass on a daily basis and catch the shows at the Riv for free to boot. Wow! One of my titles here at Entertainment Ave! is Bouncer, but I have yet to bounce someone. When there is bouncing to be done, it's usually Big Cooter getting bounced for being drunk and stupid at the bar we're at. Then the Dude on the Right has to try and talk the other bouncer out of it kicking pour Big Cooter out.

Anyway. Joan Osborne was in town Friday night and opening for her were The Geraldine Fibbers. I'm told the Fibbers are a local act and play the Chicago area a lot. This is good info to know. Next Thursday when the Reader comes out and I'm looking to see how I'll spend my weekend, I'll look to see where the Fibbers are playing - and avoid that place by all costs! How can I put this tactfully? If Beavis were to see these guys I'm sure he'd spaz out and say "Quick! Change it! This Sucks!" I'm not the only one who felt that way. I could hear the moans and groans of the people around me. Even the Dude on the Right made the comment "Somebody must like these guys, it's just not me".

So what's wrong with the Geraldine Fibbers. Oh, nothing a dose of speeders couldn't cure. Seriously, the lead singer showed no enthusiasm in her singing or when talking to the audience. As for the guitar player, he was far too into himself. He crossed the line of looking cool by grooving to your own tune and spinning around on stage looking like an ass. Plus, in a forty minute set they stopped to re-tune four times. What's up with that? Except for the Dead I've never see a band re-tune so much. Hey guys, use some of that money you got for the show and buy some better or additional instruments. Geeze... As far as the style of music the Fibbers play I'd say it was a strange mix of Country & Irish Folk with a touch of Rock. As cool as that may sound, the music was really dull. Not even the electric violin and standing bass could perk up this music or singer (she reminds me of how I would picture Courtney Love if she ever had a bad heroin night). This band is not The Corrs or The Cranberries (both popular Irish Rock bands). The best way to describe this music is to say it's what you would put on if you were taking an ice bath and planning on opening up a vein. In short it was depressing.

I also get the impression that the lead singer was a lesbian. What makes me say that? Well, in her first song she sang "if drinking won't kill me, her memory will" and in her second she sang "I got no satisfaction from lifting up your dress". Hmm, Don't get me wrong folks, I'm not knocking her. If it were true, hell, we got lot's in common. We'd both have short, dark hair (at least in the winter - in summer I shave my head), and we both like to eat at the Y.

In my life I've only walked out on one movie (the Beast Master), but I've never walked out on a band. If the Riv had a re-admittance policy, I would have this night. I give the Geraldine Fibbers TWO THUMBS DOWN. (Editors note: I was at the show, and most of Stu Gotz's comments were brought about by comments from the crowd. I would like to see the Fibbers in a venue with a crowd that liked them - it might be a better show. But, at this show the band didn't even seem to try and gain one new fan. Since the show I've since found out that the band is from the west coast, and supposedly critically acclaimed. Supposedly they were doing a couple of cover tunes that led both Stu and members of the crowd to question her sexual preference. If you want to send any e-mail, what I'm really looking forward to is finding out they are playing in Chicago again so maybe we can change our review. For this show, however, the Geraldine Fibbers didn't seem to have anyone wanting to hear more. DOTR)

Thank God Joan saved my night! Here's a woman that knows how to play for a crowd. As the lights dimmed, the PA played the song "Flashlight" and Joan and her band came out carrying flashlights, waving them around in the dark just teasing the audience. When the stage lights did come on, Joan stood center stage and stretched out her vocal chords with a few minutes of "oh yeah's" and stuff like that. This may sound strange, but the audience responded favorably. Joan Osborne Photo 2With vocal chords properly stretched, Joan sang her way through and hour and a half long set of music. The first couple of songs were new, unreleased ones, so I can't tell you their names. Normally I could because I always ask one of the important dudes for a set list, but this time, the important dude felt it beneath him to get me one. That's OK because you don't need a program to enjoy Joan's show.

Before the show started I was amazed to see the age range of the crowd. From grand kids to grand parents, this seemed to be a family event. In fact... I saw one girl about 18 years get hit on by a guy from the crowd. The problem was her parents were standing behind her about ten feet away. You should have seen mom holding back dad. The "would be" Romeo saw this and took off. Poor girl... she was left standing there quite embarrassed. That's exactly why it's not cool to go to age group social events with your parents. If I had to guess I'd say the audience was 50% over 35, 25% 20's, 15% high school kids, and 5% grade schooler's.

Now I told you this info about the make up of the crowd to make this point: I think half of the crowd was bored by Joan's performance. After the 3rd song, Joan even stopped the show saying "How come you're sitting down there?... Can't have a rock and roll show with you sittn' down... Get up!" Then she proceeded to harass a guy in the balcony by saying "If I was a self respecting man I'd be standing up... Look at this guy... There he goes." I got a kick out of that. During the show she even used a Polaroid camera to take pictures of the crowd and then throw them in. Cool move in my book!

Regardless of how well she sang or her antics on stage, she really only captured a little more that half of the audience. It was obvious. You would see a +35erJoan Osborne Photo 3 dancing next to a couple of Gen Xers that were talking to each other and not paying attention to the show at all.

So, why would so many people pay $18.50 a ticket (plus that beautiful Ticket Master's Rape charge of $2.50) to go and not watch a show. I think it has a lot to do with how Joan gets promoted. If you listen to your favorite alternative radio station or watch MTV, Joan's "One of Us" got a lot of air time. The song fit neatly into the Alternative music category, but Joan is not an Alternative artist. She a hippie chick born too late. If you give her album, "Relish," a good listen, you would know that. When I gave it a listen for the first time, I was brought back to the feel good, smoke dope, hell no we won't go music of the late 60's and early 70's. Hearing her in concert made me think about the 70's (I was still shitting in a diaper in the late 60's). I recalled how goofy the clothes were and the music of a singing queen named Janis Joplin. I dare say Joan has been possessed by the spirit of Janis. Unfortunately most MTV watchers and alternative listeners cannot relate to or appreciate this. That's why I think a lot of the crowd didn't get into Joan's show like I did. Except for the finale. Joan did the one song everyone was waiting for - The God song. This got the entire room bopping their heads. Some teenagers were even waving the Rock and Roll fist in the air saying "fuck yeah!" I have a feeling that song is going to be Joan's "Roxanne" (remember Sting and the Police).

Regardless of how much I enjoyed Joan's performance, because of the mixed audience response I can only give her ONE BIG THUMB UP. The show was good, but only half the crowd enjoying it gets her only half the best rating. Oh well.



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