Michael Stipe, Matthew Sweet and Others Pay Tribute to Big Star in New York
On Saturday, an esteemed gathering of musical stars -- among them R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Mike Mills, Matthew Sweet, Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Tift Merritt -- paid tribute to influential '70s power-pop band Big Star through a performance of the group's album, 'Third/Sister Lovers,' in New York City. It was a very poignant occasion since it came one year after the death of Big Star singer and songwriter Alex Chilton.
Led by musical director Chris Stamey, the show, which was held at Mason Hall, was impressive alone for its sheer scale, as the stage housed both a rock and orchestra section. For fans of the adventurous 'Third/Sister Lovers,' it was like hearing that album really come to life.
After an opening set by Lost in the Trees, the show kicked off with Mayflies USA's Matt McMichaels singing the rocker 'Kizza Me.' From there on, the guest singers peformed about two songs each from the record: Kaplan offered 'O Dana' and "Take Care'; Mills sang the melodic 'Jesus Christ'; Merritt delivered a very soulful rendition of 'Dream Lover' and a rocking 'You Can't Have Me'; Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake performed 'Nighttime' and 'Stroke It Noel.' Singer Brett Harris showcased some amazing vocals on 'Femme Fatale,' a Velvet Underground song that Big Star had covered, while Django Haskins sang the very gloomy ballad 'Holocaust.'
Surviving Big Star drummer Jody Stephens took two turns on the microphone himself, singing the lovely 'For You' and then later 'Blue Moon.' He played in