Ah, 1994. It was the year when all the friends you ever needed could be found Thursdays on NBC. Hanging out at coffee shops was also cool and the only thing bigger than your cordless phone was Lisa Loeb and her number one hit Stay (I Missed You). Back then MTV was still in the business of playing music videos and hers was the definition of artsy cute. Before there was Zooey Deschanel and her big eyes there was Lisa and her attention grabbing eye glasses. Well the glasses have gotten smaller, but Lisa is still out there singing about love, appearing on television and film, and releasing several children albums. Heck, in 2010 she even introduced her own eye wear line.
Selling out the second of two back to back shows at the City Winery, Lisa Loeb showed off a voice that matched her intimate surroundings. A very likeable stage presence, Lisa is confident enough to admit when she is unable to sing a requested song due to her forgetting some of the words. A lot of what she did sing about focused on her wasting love on another. The chorus to her former top 20 hit Do You Sleep? (“I don’t know/ and I don’t care/ if I ever will see you again”) seemed to permeate much of her on stage musings. But you know she does care. And all that naked vulnerability is just so darn cute you want to give her a hug.
A big surprise to the evening was when the two eccentric audience members seated behind me suddenly joined Lisa on stage. Turns out they were Jim Peterick of the bands Survivor and Ides of March and Mike Borch (drummer for Ides of March). Lisa, who had befriended Jim while working on the short lived television series Cupid, then cheered and danced along while Jim and Mike led the crowd in a rousing rendition of the 1970 hit Vehicle. The energy level was intense and Lisa wisely followed this with Stay. Based on the crowd response to these two mega hit singles, no one in the audience had any attention of leaving.
Joining Lisa on stage for much of the night and also opening for her was Chicago native Jonny Polonsky. Alone on stage he alternated playing an electric and acoustic guitar while drawing the audience in with his dense but lyrical songs. With Lisa his electric guitar provided a good balance to her acoustic strumming.
Lisa Loeb’s website lisaloeb.com is a great site to catch up with Lisa or to purchase music. Her most recent album is No Fairy Tale which is also available on vinyl. City Winery continues to offer up great music as well as great food and drinks in what has to be the hippest winery in the West Loop. They are located at 1200 W. Randolph. For information about coming shows click here citywinery.com/chicago/
All photos by Noel Schecter