Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting My Fixx on the Streets of Skokie -- Concert Review

Concert Review

The Fixx
Backlot Bash, Skokie, IL
August 25, 2012

I can't say that I've ever really been a fan of The Fixx.

Though the British band had a string of hits in the 1980s that couldn't help but breed familiarity, I've never owned an album, seen them live nor could name any of their members.

And at this time a week ago, if asked to name every '80s band I wouldn't mind seeing live--even for free at a local fest--I never would have named the Fixx.

But after discovering (in writing this article) that they would be headlining on Saturday night at Skokie's Backlot Bash--at which I was looking forward to seeing Tributosaurus as Tom Petty on Friday night (which I did) and Local H on Sunday night (which I missed due to the rain)--I made a point of going to see The Fixx and am glad I did.

Without a point of reference, I can't comment on how they compared to their early days, but in his mid-50s, singer Cy Curnin cuts a dashing, engaging figure and still sings well. And if Wikipedia is to be believed, the rest of the band still consists of the classic lineup.

Just among the audience sitting near me, it was clear that some attendees were hardcore Fixx fans who had come to Skokie specifically to see a cherished old favorite, yet one that is still putting out new albums. So I can't blame The Fixx for delivering much the same setlist they had played the other night at a paid admission gig in Milwaukee, with the greatest hits one would expect but also a number of new songs.

I--and presumably many with a "check out anyone who's presented for free" festival mindset--didn't recognize any songs until "One Thing Leads to Another" 10 tunes into the set, leading me to think that perhaps the band should have adjusted their setlist for thr Backlot Bash crowd. But Curnin & Co. confidently gave the throng on Oakton Street their current Fixx.

With the title song of their new Beautiful Friction album and five other new tunes, The Fixx made a strong case that they are still putting out quality music more than a generation beyond being in heavy MTV rotation.

And really, they didn't have that many hits that a casual observer such as myself would know. Really, just "One Thing Leads to Another," "Saved By Zero," "Stand or Fall," "Red Skies" and "Are We Ourselves," the first four of which were dutifully--and well--played.

More ardent Fixx fans likely also appreciated hearing "Deeper and Deeper," "Driven Out," "Secret Separation," "How Much is Enough" and "Less Cities, More Moving People," which also appear on the band's hits collections.

For the price paid--nothing--on a very comfortable night in Skokie, this was a performance that delivered adequate enjoyment to slight Fixx fans--and given my appreciation for their top hits, I guess I should count myself as one--and probably considerably more so to serious ones.

I wasn't overly enthralled by the songs I didn't know and can't say that I was dazzled throughout the entire performance. The Fixx were enjoyable if not quite--at least for me--sensational.

But as the Backlot bash organizers did with Fastball last year, this was another case of being reintroduced to a band that proved to have a deeper history--and more impressively perhaps, ongoing & current activity--than I ever knew or appreciated.

One thing leads to another, indeed.

1 comment:

GlennPageMusic said...

Thanks for the review.

I'm a huge Fixx fan (a "fixxture") and I think the band are greatly undervalued and sometimes gets a bad rap because people associate them with other new wave acts of dubious talent who they only share the most superficial of similarities to.

They also seem to get penalized by the rock intelligencia for daring to have had HITS (gasp!) in what is considered by music snobs to be an artistically barren time in pop music history - that is, the 80's. Many people think it's SO MUCH COOLER (he said sarcastically) for a band's indie "cred" if they have never had any real hits on the radio, and so the Fixx sometimes get the cold shoulder in pop/rock music history.

The truth, in my view, is that the Fixx make accessible, powerful rock/funk music that actually has some depth and resonance beyond its top 40 appeal, and they have created many wonderful songs/albums through the years.

They are one of those bands whose so-called "disposable" music actually richly rewards more immersive listening.

I recommend checking out Woodland 1011 for a different perspective on the Fixx: it is an acoustic re-imagining of many of their songs and really puts the lie to the idea that they were a disposable synth-pop band. Many of their songs remain rich, resonant and rewarding even in a stripped-down setting.

And they KILL live! :)