BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Indie-Rock heroine Liz Phair’s sold out show at The Fillmore in San Francisco Thursday night was a homecoming of sorts.
The 51 year old singer-songwriter and guitarist is touring in support of the recently released “Girly-Sound to Guyville,” a retrospective 25th Anniversary three disc set of her landmark gold-selling debut album, “Exile in Guyville.” In 1990 she made an unsuccessful attempt to start a music career in the Bay Area, but three years later, after returning to her adopted Chicago, she released “Guyville” to critical acclaim as a feminine song-by-song rebuttal to the Rolling Stones “Exile On Mainstreet.”
Once prone to stage fright, Phair has long since become a confident performer onstage with solid delivery while also unafraid to chat up her audience. While the Fillmore show was a mere 70 minutes long, it provided a brisk overview of Phair’s career, covering material from five albums in addition to the unreleased track “The Game.”
Jump-starting her appearance with the infectious “Supernova” from 1994’s “Whip-Smart,” and “Johnny Feelgood” from 1998’s “Whitechocolatespaceegg,” Phair began her set with some of her more familiar material before taking a brief detour into lesser known territory.
That would quickly change as a heavy dose of “Exile” would dominate the rest of the show. “6’1” had the crowd joining in on the choruses. “Mesmerizing,” “Polyester Bride” and “Stratford-on-Guy” would soon follow.
Next up, she delivered a pair a cuts from her “controversial” self-titled 2003 album, “Extraordinary” and “Why Can’t I ?”. Criticized by some of her earliest hard-core fans for it’s more polished and slick sound, the truth was that it was a truly enjoyable effort that didn’t have a single bad track, but it’s obviously tough to please everyone. “Why Can’t I ?” has actually evolved into becoming one of her best known songs. Signaling the end of her set, certainly no one at The Fillmore was complaining.
Phair returned for an encore featuring “Fuck and Run,” a biographical ditty written to describe a one-night stand, along with “Divorce Song,” the seventh and final song she delivered from “Exile in Guyville.” It concluded an exhilarating, if all too brief glimpse into the career of a musician that continues, as always, to do it her way. Devoid of any behemoth record company marketing or support, she has produced an abundance of quality material from the start. Here’s hoping there’s much more to follow in the coming years.
Phair’s tour continues with a show in Los Angeles tonight, before continuing south for performances in Solano Beach Monday and Phoenix on Tuesday.