Randy Newman only records about one non-soundtrack album per decade, probably because his trenchant political pieces remain relevant for years after they're released. Economic crisis? 1974's "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)" has proven to be a popular request on this tour. Problems overseas? Newman performed the brutally nationalistic satire "Political Science" (They all hate us anyhow/So let's drop the big one now) on The Colbert Report, some 24 years after it appeared on his album Sail Away. During this solo tour, Newman, alone with his piano, fits thirty-plus songs into two hour-long sets. In addition to addressing hot-button topics with the aforementioned selections, Newman ranges from animated whimsy ("You've Got A Friend in Me," from Toy Story) to devastating sadness ("Bad News from Home," a startlingly grim murder ballad) to ironic self-reflection ("I'm Dead [But I Don't Know It]," during which he encourages audience members to goad him into retirement). His stage banter alternates between spontaneous wisecracks about crowd behavior and honest revelations (he admits he wrote "I Miss You," a poignant lament, "for my first wife while I was married to my second") that suggest he's occasionally as emotionally conflicted as his beleaguered characters.
Wed., Oct. 22, 8 p.m., 2008