Friday, December 10, 2010

Big Star's 'Third' comes to life at the Cat's Cradle

All photos by Kevin Norris
A truly magical event took place Thursday night at the Cat's Cradle. A large crowd gathered at the Carrboro club to see the world premiere performance of the fully orchestra classic album Third / Sister Lovers by Big Star.

With Chris Stamey at helm, a band consisting of Big Star's own Jody Stephens, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Mitch Easter, an Ari Picker conducted orchestra and guest vocalists galore, the show was not only a celebration of the amazing music of Big Star, but of the Triangle music scene.

Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony served as master of ceremonies and opened the show with the somber "Nature Boy." The full band came out and launched into the rocker "Kizza Me," and the show rocked on from there.

Jody Stephens performance of "For You" was breathtaking and well delivered. A few songs later, Mike Mills killed the lead vocals on "Jesus Christ" as the band shimmered around him. It was one of the highest points of the entire show.

Stu McLamb delivered phenomenal vocals on "Stroke It Noel," while The Rosebuds, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, delivered a great performance of "Femme Fatale." Brad and Phil Cook of Megafaun were up next with the experimental song "Downs," which was a perfect fit for the pair. The song even featured Ivan Howard bouncing a basketball as percussion in the middle of the stage, which bizarrely seemed to fit in the song perfectly.

The orchestra, conducted by Ari Picker, shined throughout the evening, bringing a big smile to Chris Stamey's face on more than one occasion. "Holocaust" was one of those moments where everything clicked, especially the phenomenal vocal performance by Django Haskins and the orchestra.

After a short break, the band returned for a lengthy encore, starting with the rousing anthem "Thank You Friends." Two Chris Bell solo album tunes found their way in the encore, "You and Your Sister" and "I Am the Cosmos."

Another high point of the set was the shimmering power pop of the song "September Gurls." While it was a bit rough around the edges at times, it's a Big Star classic. The first encore closed with a classic from #1 Record, "Give Me Another Chance," which Matt McMichaels delivered beautifully.

After another short break, the band returned a roared their way through The Kinks' classic "Till the End of the Day," which was featured as a bonus track on the 1992 Rykodisc version of Third/Sister Lovers.

The show was a phenomenal and almost one of a kind. I say almost, because they're doing it again tonight, Friday, December 10. Tickets are still available and you'll be kicking yourself later if you don't check it out.

[Many thanks to BottyGuy for helping us fill in the set list in order.]

Set list (w/ lead vocalist)
Nature Boy (Django Haskins)
Kizza Me (Matt McMichaels)
O Dana (Matt McMichaels)
For You (Jody Stephens)
Nightime (Chris Stamey)
Jesus Christ (Mike Mills)
Take Care (Matt McMichaels & Django Haskins)
Big Black Car (Stu McLamb)
Stroke It Noel (Stu McLamb)
Blue Moon (Jody Stephens)
Femme Fatale (Ivan Howard & Kelly Crisp)
Downs (Brad & Phil Cook)
Dream Lover (Matt McMichaels & Django Haskins)
Holocaust (Django Haskins)
You Can't Have Me (Django Haskins)
Kangaroo (Brett Harris)
Thank You Friends (Django Haskins & Mike Mills)
You and Your Sister (Brett Harris)
September Gurls ((Matt McMichaels & Mike Mills)
I Am the Cosmos (Chris Stamey)
Give Me Another Chance (Matt McMichaels)
Till the End of the Day (Chris Stamey & Mitch Easter)


BottyGuy said...

That show put a big smile on my face that is still there.

I didn't think that that album could "rock" but it did. I loved "Big Black Car" which I never cared for on the album, but they added a trumpet solo at the end that was inspirational.

Also who is Sydney Dixon, she sang backup but she definitely had a great voice.

Amanda said...

This show made my week. I was a little disappointed that Mills didn't sing background on Femme Fatale (apologies to Kelly Crisp; I am a huge R.E.M. fan) but I thought all the vocals were fantastic.

Sidney G Dixon said...

I'm Sidney Dixon! My father, Don Dixon, is a colleague of Chris Stamey's and that is how I got involved in the show. I got my degree in Voice Performance, I typically sing opera/classical.

jplum said...

Sidney, you were awesome, especially on Holocaust, OMG, soo amazing! Such an incredible show from start to finish. Oh, and please tell your dad that I said thanks for Murmur!

Chris Beacham said...

It was great fun! I made a little iPhone video of "For You". Check it out at

One more plug for Sidney's vocals!