Big Star Third

A concert performance of Big Star's legendary Sister Lovers album

28 May 2012 / 20:00

£15 - 25

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Big Star's third legendary album

Big Star ’s third album, Sister Lovers, has long been revered by musicians and critics as one of the most moving, mysterious and influential records ever made. Peter Buck from R.E.M. described it as "a Rosetta Stone for a whole generation".

When Sister Lovers was written, and recorded, Big Star were primarily a studio project consisting of Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens – and so it was never properly performed in public. That changed in December 2010, when a band of fantastic musicians and Big Star devotees took it upon themselves to unearth the original scores, assemble an orchestra, and perform the entire album at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina.

The whole enterprise was a challenge. “The original written scores for the record were long missing,” Chris Stamey says, “but John Fry at Ardent Records was able to supply us with elements of the original multitrack tapes. Composer Carl Marsh, who wrote the ground-breaking charts for the original record, used these tapes to precisely re-transcribe his arrangements. And I’ve orchestrated anew some other elements of the recordings for the players, in order to recreate live some of the aleatoric studio effects.”

An even more ambitious show took place in New York a few months later, featuring contributions from Jody Stephens (the sole surviving member of Big Star), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), Chris Stamey (the dB’s), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Tift Merritt, Matthew Sweet and Michael Stipe (R.E.M.). It was an extraordinary concert. Mojo magazine, reviewing, wrote : “a lifetime of professional toil, personal tragedy and creative triumph crystallised during the course of a single remarkable evening.”

On May 28th 2012, this show will come to London – with a different cast but an equal devotion to the music. As before, Stephens and Chilton’s musical ideas - so far ahead of their time 35 years ago - will resonate in the hands of a collective of sympathetic, top-notch players. "We’ve created a concert piece that will have a life in years to come, trying to keep the spirit of the music and make it come across with the right emotions live," says Chris Stamey. "There's something about this record that connects across generations."

"It's easier as time passes to revisit that album because it came out of such a dark period," reflects Big Star drummer Jody Stephens. "There were brilliant moments in the studio, especially Carl Marsh's string arrangements, which really take it to a whole other world. But it could be emotionally difficult to watch certain things happen. I was so close to it at the time that I could not see what it was."

As well as a performance of Sister Lovers in its entirety, fans will hear a second set of Big Star, Alex Chilton and Chris Bell gems as well – expect the likes of "I Am The Cosmos", "You And Your Sister", “September Gurls” and “The EMI Song ” and more.


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