Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Pal Shazar in NYC 1/28/10

Legions of musicians and artists struggle to acquire some nebulous quasi-version of “downtown New York cool.” Last night Pal Shazar reaffirmed that she’s always had it, and did so effortlessly. In the front room of an after-hours Lower East Side beauty salon, of all places, she treated the crowd of mostly friends and diehard fans who’d shlepped down to Broome Street in the cold to a tantalizingly brief set of her trademark edgy, sharply literate rock songs. She didn’t even use a mic. Backed by a single guitarist playing tight, terse janglerock on his Telecaster, Shazar displayed a carefree energy, bouncing around and getting the lone underage kid in the crowd – he looked about two – to show off his own equally carefree moves. Shazar’s songwriting is something akin to the missing link between Patti Smith and Patti Rothberg: the melodies glisten and ring out while the lyrics deliver an indelibly urban, often metaphorically charged tableau. This was best exemplified by the defiant anthem People Talk (from her most recent cd The Morning After), which closed the set: “People talk, just keep walking, they don’t know how you feel.” Shazar’s husband Jules Shear joined her on that one, adding casually perfect harmonies.

Other songs held up strongly, stripped down to just the basics. A gritty, rapidfire Lou Reed-inflected pop song reflected on how to carry on a relationship with someone inclined to take himself too seriously: “Life is not serious at all!” she exclaimed, almost out of breath. There was irony in that, but there was also fun. The opening number, a vivid chronicle of down-and-out survival called out for someone to “help me off my knees,” welcoming any new scenario “as long as it’s no place like home.” Other songs matched breezy, upbeat pop melodies to more introspective lyrics.

Shazar is also a painter (she’s got an intriguing coffee table book out, Pal Shazar: The Illustrated Lyrics) and had numerous works on display. Eyes are the thing with her: even her animals (a lion, especially) have them, whether wary or brutalized, rendering them instantly and potently anthropomorphized. Most of the others were portraits, seemingly in a series contrasting an arresting yellow-ochre with gentler pastel tones. The first of the two strongest of these posed a woman clutching herself under a white dress, which may be torn, or it might just be askew enough to reveal a leg – if looks could kill, that painting would have. The other was equally striking in its sadness, a woman with her back to the sea, clutching what could either be a child or maybe a smaller, younger version of herself. As with her music, Shazar’s art gives you a lot to think about.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Art, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments