Bowin' away

Cello Chix at the Lizard Lounge, February 8, 2008
By BRETT MILANO  |  February 12, 2008
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The Cello Chix

Of all the CD-release parties ever thrown by Boston bands, the Cello Chix’ show for their new, self-released Under the Covers featured the best Jethro Tull medley. The Chix may specialize in covering songs from the classic-rock repertoire on two cellos and drums, but they’re far from a mere novelty act. They treat the familiar songs as concert pieces to be explored and reinterpreted, an approach closer to early Kronos Quartet than to Apocalyptica, the cello quartet who made a name for themselves by sticking to the Metallica songbook, or even Rasputina, the all-female cello trio who wear vintage lingerie on stage — not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.

That isn’t to suggest the Chix’ show last Friday was no fun. As serious as Kronos can be, they’ve had a good time with rock tunes like “Purple Haze” — which the Chix also played to good effect. Performing to a sold-out Lizard Lounge, the Chix offered a more formal set than they have during their various residencies at the Abbey (no “Wipeout” or “Louie Louie” this time), but they scored with charm and musicality. Classically trained players Rebecca Thornblade and Susanna Porte traded off on “bass” and “lead” cello, often using the songs as jumping-off points for improvisations. Not every tune profited from this treatment — they could have picked a better Stevie Wonder entry than “I Wish.” “Light My Fire” was inspired, however, the middle-section solo building on the main riff’s snake-charmer quality.

The Tull mini-set featured guest flutist Alicia DiDonato, and it proved the highlight of the night, both because the songs were less familiar (only a diehard would know “Beggar’s Farm”) and because the jazz/blues framework of the material lent itself to instrumental workouts. This was early Tull, with drummer Nancy Delaney swinging as lightly as Tull’s Clive Bunker once did. Singer Eileen Rose (with most of the band Angeline doing back-ups) joined for the set’s only vocal number, Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting.” Here the swirling arrangement came close to Philip Glass territory, a perfect match for Bush’s flight of imagination.

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  Topics: Live Reviews , Louie Louie, Stevie Wonder, Philip Glass,  More more >
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