Alanis Morissette at Chicago Theatre

Unlike most radio stations’ holiday extravaganzas, WTMX-FM (101.9) takes a less-is-more approach. Instead of glomming eight or 10 bands to play a marathon show in an enormodome, the station known as the Mix selects a couple mainstream acts to headline each year. The result rarely is cutting edge, but almost always a pleasant experience.

Persona differs, but voice is all Tori Amos

Tori Amos has one of those ethereal voices that can make even the mundane sound compelling. Whether she’s performing her breakthrough hit, “Silent All These Years,” or tackling Eminem’s misogynist ” ’97 Bonnie & Clyde” from the woman’s point of view, Amos conveys emotions that reach the listener’s soul.

Goo Goo Dolls at the Chicago Theatre

The Goo Goo Dolls did the best they could Friday night at the Chicago Theatre. But they were playing to an audience that probably didn’t attend a lot of rock concerts. How else could you explain a bunch of grown men [and women-but let’s face it, most of them were guys] who would hurl fluorescent glow sticks at the stage and think the band would enjoy it.

Childlike joy, sexy beat make No Doubt fun

To watch No Doubt on stage, you’d never guess the musicians have ever had anything but happiness in their careers. Some bands are good at faking a good show, but few exude the kind of carefree, childlike joy that makes a show so much fun. Friday night at the Allstate Arena, the California band, fronted by Gwen Stefani, performed just shy of two hours, kicking off the show with “Hella Good.”

Paul McCartney: We still love him, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Obviously not running from his past, Paul McCartney embraced the band that made his career and treated fans to a concert that was top-heavy on Beatles hits. His set list Tuesday night at the United Center didn’t veer much from the former Beatle’s two sold-out concerts here last April. Neither did his onstage patter, a fact he joked often about. “Those of you who were here last time already heard this story,” said the world’s most famous bassist. “But I’m going to tell it again.” With that, he regaled the audience with tales about John, George, Linda and Heather. He reminisced about a massage therapist in Tokyo who croaked out a Beatles tune as she tended to his sore muscles. Sorry, Ringo fans–the drummer wasn’t mentioned.

Crowd gives Avril Lavigne big, wet one

Every generation has a hero, and this one seems to idolize Avril Lavigne–the neck-tie wearing, skateboarding Canadian teenager whose plaintive songs have struck a chord with teenagers. Of course in kid years, a generation only lasts a couple years tops. But judging by her debut album, “Let Go,” and the strength of her live performances, Lavigne appears to have the talent and tenacity to mature as an artist who will continue to win fans regardless of her core following growing up.

Oasis: Brash brothers live up to bravado

If Liam Gallagher ever quit the music business, he could make a nice career for himself as an actor specializing in freeze-frame. If the guy moved more than a few times Tuesday night at the Chicago Theatre, it usually was to exit when his older brother, guitarist-songwriter Noel, sang lead. But that’s nothing new. Oasis never was known for its enthralling stage presence.

Sheryl Crow just a passenger on this runaway Train

August 13, 2002

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Sheryl Crow just a passenger on this runaway Train

As the headliner for the Jeep World Outside Festival tour, Sheryl Crow did everything right Sunday night at the Tweeter Center. She played a tight set, had an interesting stage setup and sang all the hits her fans wanted to hear. But Train, which preceded her onstage, ended up stealing the show.

Mature Jewel goes with flow

Jewel may have been nursing a broken collarbone and ribs, but there was nothing ailing her voice Sunday night at the Chicago Theatre. Backed by a five-piece band, the singer-songwriter captivated the sold-out crowd with a two-hour plus concert that showed off her flexible range. She sang all the expected hits from her three studio albums (excluding her Christmas CD, for obvious reasons).

All-‘American Boy’ Isaak still golden

If you were to believe the songs Chris Isaak sings, he is one unlucky son of a gun when it comes to love. “Wicked Game” is about a tortured love affair. He wrote “Forever Blue” after his fiancee broke up with him. And in his latest single, “Let Me Down Easy,” Isaak pleads with his latest lover to go easy with his heart.

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