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Liz Phair Gets Back To "Guyville"

Liz Phair in Concert

By Evan Chase

It's always reassuring to see a great artist get back to what it is that they do best, and last night Liz Phair did just that, playing her landmark indie rock rosetta stone "Exile In Guyville" in order, from start-to-finish, at The Fillmore in San Francisco. She was demure, she was sweet, she was charming,she was funny, and man, in addition to all of that, she was hot! Liz Phair is hot as hell. Who knew? She's about as big as a minute, 5'2" as the song goes, but man does she pack a punch. The lady is gifted, to be certain. The songs on "Guyville" as Liz confirmed last night when asked, really are a song-by-song response to "Exile On Main Street," by The Rolling Stones. I've never heard that aspect in all of the times I've spun it, but what the hell, I'm a great big Rock Fan and can play along. The songs on "Guyville" are pithy, wise-ass, acerbic, shocking, startling, and, often times, incandescently beautiful (not unlike Liz, come to think of it.) "Never Said," "Explain It To Me," and "Mesmerizing" were early favorites, though there really wasn't a weak song in the set. Reissuing "Guyville" as a 2-cd/dvd on Dave Matthews' ATO Records at its 15th anniversary is a smart play, judging by last night's audience response. "Fuck and Run" was an obvious highlight, though the whole damn show was whip-smart, right on. When Liz sang "Girls! Girls! Girls!" -- with its chorus: "I get away almost every day/with what the girls call murder" in her short shorts, bra-less, in her most lilting voice, you couldn't help but believe her. Formerly known to have stage fright, Liz was in full possession of her vocal and guitar prowess, and pretty much nailed every song. At one point, when she knew she had the audience in the palm of her hand, Liz said: "You know I hate to ask, but I've just gotta: did you all buy this record back in the day?" The overwhelming roaring response from SF's hipster/indie set assured her and she said: "Then I'm deeply honored to be here with you tonight.""It's always over too fast!" she said, before playing "Stratford-On-Guy," "Exile's" second-to-last track. Liz then thanked the audience for believing in her, and sticking with her (through the crappy, by-the-numbers, but necessary corporate rock record years, one can presume.) Closing with an impromptu, unrehearsed reading of the hit single, "Polyester Bride," Liz sent the fans home happy, this one as well.

Exile in Guyville reissue
"Exile In Guyville" 2-cd/dvd reissue 
is out 6/24/08 on ATO Records.
(See review in Pitchfork.)

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