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On the Scene: Liz Phair performs 'Exile in Guyville' in NYC

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On the fourth and final night of hermulti-city sold-out Exile in Guyville performances, Liz Phair exudedcool effervescence through her skintight vest and tousled hair. Quietlyconfident, amid reactions from critics that her recentstring of shows were anti-climactic and stiff, Phair casually breezed through all eighteen songs fromthealbum and few other precious gems during a short encore.

Admittedly, afterreading a few less-than-stellar reviews of Phair’s show in Chicago, Ihad lowered expectations stepping into the Hiro Ballroom a few minutesbefore she took the stage. But as the first few chords of “6’1” rangout, a huge smile stretched across my face, one I saw plastered acrossevery otherperson in the crowd. At times out of tune or mired inlyrical fogginess, the hour and a halflongset was fun yet surprisingly bittersweet. Was it really 15 yearsago thatExile came out? (I feel old. And I’m not even 30 yet!)

Singingalong to every single song, I couldn’t care less about whatever her motivations were: whether she was there tocash in on the recent wave of early ’90s nostalgia, revive hertrying-to-stay-relevant career, or merely market copies of her newreissue. To hear one of your all-time favorite albums performed live in itsentirety is a once in a lifetime opportunity, one especially personal to me since Exile hasretained significance in my life, contributing to my sexual development in awkward teenageyears and even now providing perspective on the recent dissolution of arelationship. Its timeless lyrics and themes make me wonder how youngwomen react hearing it for thefirst time in this day and age, or if they react at all. Is a song like “Flower” stillprovocative in the age of Tila Tequila and Pussycat Dolls? And where have all the brutally honest, whip-smartfemale singer-songwriters gone?

For those who missed the show, here’s a short clip from “Divorce Song,” one of many crowd favorites from last night. (Warning: Some NSFW language.)

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