Veteran Brit indie-pop superstars Gene took top billing at the Metro last night in Chicago, and their cult-like following came out of the woodwork to root for the band and Martin Rossiter's new haircut. There is no question that Gene is a talented group of musicians. Throughout the night, Steve Mason's guitar playing was exquisite, varying between soft, sweet arpeggios to crunchy rock power chords, with numerous technically perfect guitar solos filling in the gaps. Frontman Martin Rossiter's seductive croon and self-confident strutting had the crowd eating out of his hands. I ran across 7 or 8 hot girls, about half from the UK, that were all touring the US with Gene. That's dedication - and there weren?t even the psychedelic drugs and 45 minute jam sessions that normally attract the "I quit my job to go on tour with my favorite band" types.
Gene's set consisted of a good mix of older songs, as well as a number of tracks from their recently released ARTISTdirect debut, Libertine. Some classic favorites included "In Love With Love," and "The British Disease," both from 1999's Revelations, with the brand new "From Georgia to Osaka," "Wallowing in the Shallows," and the Libertine's first single, "Is It Over" making waves as well. For those of you that aren't familiar with Gene, I'll let Rossiter's own description of his music do the talking. After beginning 3 or 4 songs with "This one is about shagging," he decided to change it up and said, "There are three things you do in life; there's sex, there's death, and there's the stuff you do in between. It's the stuff you do in between that I'm not very good at? this one's about death." Gene then broke into a beautiful rendition of Libertine's opening track "Let Me Move On." Over all, the band was tight, the crowd was loud, and a good time was had by all.
I should mention that Rykodisc's young rock upstarts Matthew opened the show and, as usual, they delivered a knock out punch. They blasted through most of the songs from their debut album, Everybody Down, and performed with incredible passion and energy. Go see Matthew if you get half the chance. They rock!