Phair’s ‘Funstyle’ shines through in set at the Paradise
It may be the nicest thing that Liz Phair heard all year.
About two-thirds of the way through the alt-rocker’s cheerful 70-minute show at the Paradise Wednesday night a fan yelled out, “Love the new stuff!’’
For an artist who is often held hostage by some fans and critics to her early work, it was a welcome vote of confidence, especially since it’s possible that some in the crowded house may not have even known Phair had “new stuff’’ before she announced it from the stage — a digital album called “Funstyle’’ released in July — and that critical reaction to it was largely unfavorable.
But it was a deserved shout-out, as the two new tunes Phair and her backing trio played were spirited rockers that she obviously drew pleasure from digging into, especially the funky stomper “Satisfied.’’
As heartening as it was to see Phair refuse to be trapped in amber — she even dipped into her unfairly maligned 2003 “sell-out’’ album for the delightful snap of “Extraordinary’’ — she clearly knows where her bread is buttered. So it was equally encouraging that Phair clearly still digs on the tracks from her stunning 1993 debut, “Exile in Guyville,’’ as much as her fans do, with nearly half the show dedicated to its lo-fi yet clever charms.
Highlights included the ambling “Divorce Song’’ and “Never Said’’ and the ribald “Flower,’’ featuring two excited women from the audience supplying determined backing vocals which, Phair said, made her feel “exceedingly powerful.’’ The night closed with a rollicking run through “Johnny Feelgood.’’
While her well-known stage fright cropped up in the form of vocal shakiness at the start of the show, Phair quickly found the sweet spot in her offbeat style and engaged in an affable give-and-take with the request-happy crowd.
The enchanting Everyday Visuals warmed up the house with their cool dream pop, marrying sweet vocals to mellifluous melodies and laying it all in a whirling sonic bed.
Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com.