Lollapalooza 2011, Sunday: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

  • Photograph: Rory O'Connor

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars

Photograph: Rory O'Connor

Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: The Cars


The Cars, in their prime, were never known as an amazing live act. Rather, the band took what was happening in New Wave and punk and made studio albums so good, with undeniable hits, that they broke through the overbuilt walls of FM radio. If a radio station squeezed a Cars tune in its tight album-rock format, you knew it wasn't all bad, and the Top 40 loosened a bit, as it did for others like the Clash.

As for Lolla, it can't be all bad for us old-timers with the Cars on the bill. And original Cars, at that. Rather than substitute for deceased original bassist and singer/songwriter Benjamin Orr, the band chooses to play as a quartet with keyboardist Greg Hawkes (in  bleached hair) filling in the bass parts on the keys-or not. Today's Cars were noticeably sonically sparser than you might expect. Whether it is respect for Orr, the audience, or what, the band's resistance to bringing in a ringer bass is noteworthy in an age when musicians are sometimes regarded as easily replaced. 

As precisely executed as its early albums are, the live Cars today were a bit more spontaneous and far from overslick. David Robinson's red and purple electronic drums sound just right for the most part, but never robotic, his grace notes sometimes not landing perfectly. Ocasek, himself, clad in lightweight black and white from the extra-tall shop seemed to be having a laugh and telling himself "I'll have to learn that one one day," when he missed a repeat verse at the end of "Let's go." The slips were pretty minor and between our anticipation of hits and the guy's upbeat 'tude, the set came out a winner. The band also had no compulsion about straying from the hits, playing a good chunk of its new, respectable, but not-quite-the-same album Move Like This, and the very fine, but not so well-known "Up and Down" from its third album, Panorama, a personal fave of mine. 

Largely, it was Elliot Easton's deft guitar lines, those signature licks on "My Best Friend's Girl" and elsewhere, that lent the band's tunes needed authority. Ending with the drum-heavy "You're All I've Got Tonight" and featuring some extraneous blazing guitar from Easton, the Cars went out strong.

Cars set list

1 Good Times Roll
2 Blue Tip
3 Up and down
4 My Best Friend's Girl
5 Keep On Knocking
6 You Might Think
7 Free
8 Moving in Stereo
9 Sad Song
10 Just what I needed
11 Magic
12 Let's go
13 You're All I've Got Tonight

 


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