In this season of reuniting Chicago alt-rock legends -- the Smoking Popes,
Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill -- some bands will have an easier time
coming back from the dead than others. Veruca Salt is likely to have more
difficulty coming off life support and reconnecting with an audience. But
the pioneering mainstream riot grrrls of the '90s are every bit as deserving
of a successful comeback.
Granted, the revitalized Veruca Salt that played
Sunday night at Metro is not the Veruca Salt that scored a major hit in 1994
with "Seether." Louise Post split from co-vocalist/songwriter Nina Gordon
after the band's second album. Gordon pursued a stillborn and dreadful solo
career, but Post continued with a new group (under the Veruca name) that
released a great but underappreciated disc called "Resolver" in 2000. And
then she disappeared.
Now, clearly benefitting from what Post describes as time spent "focusing
on physical and spiritual health," she has a new incarnation of the quartet
-- guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick, drummer Toby Lang and bassist Mareea
Paterson -- a new indie EP and a new album ready to go.
Clearly, Post had a lot to prove at Metro. She had to show that fans
still care about the band's old songs, even without Gordon on board. The
packed crowd was a good start, but she also had to convince us that her new
material is strong, and that at age 38, she can still command the spotlight.
With the sweet but fiery attitude that she has always displayed onstage,
powerful vocals that ranged from baby-girl cooing to a banshee wail, and
metal-edged guitar chops that have long deserved a place next to another
fine female shredder, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Post succeeded on every count.
The band's 70-minute set drew from throughout its career, with radio
staples from 1994's "American Thighs" ("Seether," "Victrola," "Spiderman")
joining tracks from the 1996 EP "Blow It Out Your A--," 1997's "Eight Arms
to Hold You" and "Resolver" (including the furious "Born Entertainer," a
slap at former boyfriend Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters) and
several memorable new tunes, all of them passionately delivered.
Veruca Salt is back, and while no one could honestly say it's better than
ever, Veruca Mach III comes close. Post is an electric performer and a
hugely talented songwriter with plenty to say, and she deserves an audience.
Opening were Juliette and the Licks, a k a actress Juliette Lewis
fronting four generic but spirited central-casting glam-punk musicians while
attempting to channel the man she called "the master and guru," Iggy Pop.