When Big Star played the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee on October 29, 1994 it was a concert designed as a homecoming farewell show of an unexpected reunion tour. Three days later, the group played Los Angeles, the earliest indication that this one-off reunion would wind up a going concern. Many more concerts would come, along with a brand new album, but that 1994 Memphis show was something special because it was the only Big Star reunion show to be filmed in its entirety. Twenty years later, Omnivore released the set as both a CD and a DVD called Live in Memphis (the one difference is that "Fire" is on the CD, not the DVD, but as it's a 36-second clip, it's not much of a loss). The closest cousin to Live in Memphis is Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93, a record that captured the first gig of this early-'90s reunion. It has nearly an identical set list, right down to the closing cover of Todd Rundgren's "Slut," but this finds space for a couple of other covers -- a throw-away of "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Patty Girl," an obscure 1967 B-side from the teenage guitar pop group Gary & the Hornets -- but the real difference is that the band is tighter, stronger, better than they were on the somewhat tentative Columbia. Here, it's possible to hear the band gel -- Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens found a balance with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, something that's obvious by the group's subsequent history, but on this spirited show you can hear the gears fall into place and that's worth the price of admission, perhaps more than once.
Live in Memphis Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine