Concrete Blonde

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Concrete Blonde

Live in Brazil (Ark 21) Neither rock & roll's grand dame (Marianne Faithfull), punk mother (Patti Smith), sister (Chrissie Hynde), nor cousin (Kim Gordon), Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano nevertheless stakes rightful claim to at least a duchesshood on Live in Brazil. Considering that last year's Group Therapy -- the now 20-year-old L.A. trio's first studio album in eight years -- and the ensuing local tour stop were ragged at best, a 2-CD live souvenir wasn't the obvious market strategy. That's when opener "God Is a Bullet" goes off point-blank -- outdoors, at an adoring Brazilian throng (alt-rock vets take note). A succeeding "Valentine," Group Therapy standout, is equally pointed; in fact, all the Therapy tracks ("Tonight," "Take Me Home," "I Was a Fool," "Violent") are cured in Brazil -- brash, unflinching. Course then there's the catalogue coven: five songs from 1990's commercial peak Bloodletting (the ripping "Days and Days"), Len Cohen's "Everybody Knows," and the spoken George Bush honorarium ("lame stupid little retarded whatisname ..."). Jim Mankey, Napolitano's loyal hearse driver, gases up his Leather Face guitar and buzz-saws no small amount of rainforest, particularly on death-alley mow-down, "Your Haunted Head." Final encore, "Tomorrow Wendy," is still Napolitano's best nonoriginal; Andy Prieboy's ghostly AIDS ballad remains lethal. Only Napolitano mouthing off at the very end, "Congratulations on the fucking World Cup and all that," kills Brazil's buzz. Who needs soccer chants anyway? (Auditorium Shores, Saturday, March 15, 8:30pm)

***.5

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