Live Review: Rhett Miller, Philadelphia, Oct. 23, 2019

In his first appearance at Philly’s new City Winery, Rhett Miller treated the toasty crowd to rarities like “Meteor Shower” and “Beer Cans,” reminisced about bonding with Dolly Parton over their beauty marks and dorking out on the phone with Ric Ocasek, and gave the Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl” an alt-country makeover.

Though he fumbled a bit with the lyrics to “Fair Enough,” Miller remembered an impressive number of words from songs scattered across Old 97’s and solo albums, and he seemed to draw them out as if to savor every incisive verse, unusual vocabulary choice and sly rhyme. It was a gambit that worked to put the focus back on Miller’s songwriting skills while simultaneously using his limber vocals to maximum effect without being too showy about it.

Highlights included staples like “Stoned,” “Doreen” and “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,” as well as more recent subversions like “Good With God,” “Jesus Loves You” and “The Human Condition.”

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich