Monthly Archives: January 2022

Grooving! Neil Francis at Thalia Hall (January 14, 2022)

Two days before the show, Thalia announces they will be covid testing on site before you are granted access. Here is the lengthy process.  Firstly, you line up outside the testing center while it is snowing. Then, they hand you a form to fill out. After filling out the form, you then have to fill out another form online and copy the code onto the hard form. At last, you go inside and get a cotton swap shoved up your nose. Then you wait inside for 10 minutes. You realize your tester has not returned and you ask another person if your results have come back. They find your card and you are given an orange wristband. You then go outside and head to the venue where they ask for your vaccination card and ID. At last you enter Thalia Hall and are immediately asked to remove all items from your pockets and are then wanded with a metal detector. You go up the stairs and then they check your ticket. Afterwards, another person checks your ID so you can get alcohol. At last, you are finished. Do you get to meet the President or the Queen of England now?!

At last, the concert begins. Neil Francis was in prime form tonight. He was very excited to play Thalia Hall, which is walking distance from where he lives. His last Chicago show was in Millennium Park on September 9th.

One of the best songs is “Can’t Stop The Rain”. It’s so catchy and so groovy. “You can’t stop the rain! It’s always coming down! It’s always gonna fall, but you’re not gonna drown!” Everyone is swaying and dancing along. His style of music is a blend of 70s southern rock, Americana, soul, and Chicago funk.

Another great groover is Changes, Pts. 1 & 2. It includes a very long jam that continually builds to a fantastic climax. The whammy bar on the keyboard is uncommon to see, and he uses it fantastically.

Cost of a ticket: $42 (including fees)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

See the full setlist here.

Quinn Delaney

Darkly Funny! The Moors at A Red Orchid Theatre (Through February 27, 2022)

Two sisters living in the desolate moors hire a governess to come and teach their child. After the governess has been there for a few days without meeting the child or the man who wrote to her, she begins to get suspicious. Also, their dog meets a moor-hen and starts an interesting relationship with her.

The story, written by Jen Silverman (The Roommate), is darkly funny. It’s an unusual setting for a comedy and she takes advantage of that.

Audrey Billings (Avenue Q) is great as the governess, the newcomer trying to figure out what is going on in this strange place. Christina Gorman (3C) is fantastic as one of the sisters, who is very interested in the governess and her travels. Karen Aldridge is excellent as the other sister, who hides a big secret. Jennifer Engstrom (Bug) is fantastic as the maid who mysteriously takes on different roles depending on which room she is in. Guy Van Swearingen practically steals the show as the dog with a philosopher’s heart. Dado matches Swearingen’s hilarity as the Moor-Hen.

Get tickets now for The Moors through February 27.

Cost of a ticket: $30-$40

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

See the program here.

Quinn Delaney

Reggae Rock – Kaleo Wassman (Of Pepper) at City Winery Chicago (January 13, 2022)

Pepper is a great live band to see live. They last appeared in Chicago opening for Iration in July 2019. See the review here. Tonight, the lead singer, Kaleo Wassman is performing an acoustic set. He has a friend accompanying him on guitar and sometimes bass. 

Kaleo mentions that he really connected with Eric one night when they both sang along to “Don’t Push” by Sublime. So, they cover the song with Eric singing. The vocals are very fast in this song and he nails it.

Later on he talks about growing up in Kona on the west coast of the Big Island in Hawaii. He wrote “Rent” about this time. “My mama working so hard just to get me by. How could I ever thank you?”

They play “Back Home”. With the full band it’s a rocking song, but on acoustic it doesn’t work quite as well.

They also play a Sabotage Soundsystem song. It’s another band that Kaleo fronts.

While it was great to see Kaleo perform, it is definitely a much fuller experience when he plays with the full band.

Cost of a ticket: $53.50 (after fees)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Funny and Dramatic! Broadway in Chicago Presents Oklahoma! at CIBC Theatre (Through January 23, 2022)

Oklahoma! first opened on Broadway in 1943. It was the first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944. In 1955, the film version was released. In 2019, Daniel Fish’s version opened on Broadway. It won the Tony for best musical revival.

In the story, two men, a cowpoke and a famer, vie for the same woman. Also, a second love triangle involves two men, a cowboy and a peddler, involved with another woman.

This reimagination truly makes this story fresh and makes it fit into the current time period. This is accomplished without changing a single world of the text. It’s an amazing feat that you have to see to believe.

Christopher Bannow is excellent as the farmer trying his best to win the heart of the woman he loves. Sean Grandillo is great as the cocky cowpoke whom everyone loves. Sasha Hutchings is fantastic as the woman driving these two men crazy for her.

Hennessy Winkley is superb as the cowboy struggling to get together enough money to win over the father of the woman he loves. Mitch Tebo is excellent as the father exerting a lot of sway over who will marry his daughter. Benj Mirman is hilarious as the peddler getting forced into marriage at the barrel of his fiancée’s shotgun. Sis is outstandingly fierce and funny as the flirtatious fiancée.

Hannah Solow has one hell of a laugh. Gabrielle Hamilton is excellent in the modern dance piece to open the second act. Lastly, Barbara Walsh, Patrick Clanton, and Ugo Chukwu are all solid in their roles as well. All together they make a fantastic cast.

Get tickets now for Oklahoma through January 23rd!

Cost of a ticket: $90 (Orchestra seats)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Excellent Singer-Songwriter! Marielle Kraft opening for Maddie Poppe at City Winery Chicago (January 4, 2022)

Marielle Kraft’s mother never approved of her ex. She never asked about him, for 2 years. She put this into the song “Everyone But Me”. “My mom stopped asking how we are. My friends don’t want you at the party.” Her lyrics perfectly explain the feeling of dating someone who your friends and family don’t like.

When things finally end with this ex, he asks if they can stay friends. She says no, because as her next song title clearly says, “We Were Never Friends”. It’s a great breakup song that lays it out so clearly.

Next, she sings “Toothbrush” about the next guy she dates. “I hid your toothbrush this morning… I think it’s too much too soon to be falling in love again.” She nails it again about getting into a new relationship too soon after a long one just ended.

On the day she is moving to Nashville, she runs into her ex at the coffee shop. They don’t talk, but she notices he leaves with two coffees. It’s a gut punch that she perfectly captures in “Second Coffee”.  “Who’s that second coffee for? Will you leave it at her door?”

These four songs paint such a clear picture of this time in her life. It’s such a great narrative that she could easily turn it into a musical. She is truly a great singer-songwriter.

Catch Marielle Kraft next at Schubas on February 21st!

Cost of a ticket: $30

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Top 5 Acts of Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular at Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, TX (December 29, 2021)

Here are the top five acts of the Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular:

#5) Two women being spun around by their hair is very impressive. The audience is all wondering, does this hurt?

#4) The duel trapeze act is excellent. A look of terror was on the performer’s face as she prepared to drop off the trapeze. A wave of relief passed over her face after her partner caught her while hanging upside down. 

#3) Two men holding a jump board fling a third man at least 20ft in the air. He then lands perfectly back onto the board. Wow, this is quite a stunt!

#2) The end of the first act is insane. One man lays on a custom chair so that his feet are pointed to the sky. The other man runs and jumps onto the other’s feet. He is then flipped around like a ragdoll. He is spun and flipped around so quickly. It’s an amazing sight.

#1) The finale of the show is amazing. A giant contraption is set up on the stage that features two giant cylinders connected together that spin around. Two men are running inside their own cylinder, going airborne each time they go across the top. Then, one by one, they move to the outside of the cylinder which causes them to gain even more air on the top. It’s a truly jaw dropping performance.

Cost of a ticket: $90 (For the closest seats)
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney