The live performance confirmed it: Liz Phair can’t sing all that well. There’s no way she’d make the cut were she to go on American Idol. But honestly, who gives a shit? She somehow manages to work it with her ultra-low and monotone voice. She’s got killer songwriting skills. And she’s really hot.
Phair's on tour promoting the 15-year anniversary of her critcally acclaimed debut album Exile in Guyville. Last night's crowd was evenly split between the album's original listeners and those like me who stumbled across it later but loved it immediately. (I was eight when Guyville originally came out.)
When I interviewed Phair last week and asked why she thought Guyville had maintained its momentum and continued to attract new listeners, she suggested that she was benefiting from an unfortunate time in music; there are plenty of disposable pop queens out there and not very many female singer-songwriters “baring their ugly side.”
That’s for sure. Phair commanded the stage with her sharp set, getting cheers and laughs with songs like “Dance of the Seven Veils” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!”
The highlights of the Guyville set: 1) "Fuck and Run." The rocker grinned and called out, “How many of you did stuff in your 20s that you don’t really remember?” before launching into one of the album's most infamous tracks. 2) "Flower." Could you sing that song with a straight face? Phair can. 'Nuff said.
My only qualm is that that Phair didn't play her fantastic cover of “Turning Japanese.” However, she more than made up for it during the encore during which she strayed from Guvyille to perform “Polyester Bride” off whitechocolatespaceegg and “Chopsticks” off Whip-Smart. The latter being my all-time favorite song of Phair’s. See below:
I met him at a party and he told me how to drive him home
He said he liked to do it backwards
I said, "That's just fine with me,
That way we can fuck and watch TV."
Quite possibly a contender for the best four lines ever to open a song with.