Singer and guitarist Mike Massé will share his unique twist on rock classics when he performs a solo concert “Mike Massé in Concert in Chicago” on September 10 at the Madison Street Theater in Oak Park. His versions of their hits have been praised by singers such as Styx’s Dennis DeYoung, singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan and Rush’s Geddy Lee.
Massé’s most requested cover at concerts is “Africa” by the band Toto. Massé reported that Toto’s lead songwriter David Paich told him his version of the hit song was his favorite.
During the concert, Massé will respond to requests from fans, many of whom are familiar with his tracklist on the singer’s YouTube channel. He noted that his roster had more than doubled since the pandemic began because he wanted to keep his YouTube performances fresh.
“I was going through my catalog of songs from January 2020 and I had 466 songs there,” Massé shared. “Then I looked at how many I have today and it’s 944. More than half of the songs I know I learned in the last two and a half years.”
This extensive list includes tracks from the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, U2, Elton John, Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Coldplay, Billy Joel and many more classic rock icons. The Beatles are Massé’s favorites because of “the combination of beautiful melodies and clever lyrics with expert execution,” he said.
At the Madison Street gig, Massé said he would sing a few songs he wanted to sing first, and then accept requests.
He will also share stories he finds particularly interesting about some of the songs.
Massé attended the University of Utah, where he studied sound recording. He landed a monthly gig at the time at a Salt Lake City spot called The Pie Pizzeria and found himself playing there for 21 years. At the same time, he earned a law degree, then served as a public defender in Salt Lake City for 13 years.
Massé moved from Salt Lake City to Denver in 2014. “When I decided to become a professional musician, all I needed was an airport,” he said. “I’m about an hour from the United hub.”
He added that living in Denver gave him the opportunity to collaborate with some of his old friends as he attended high school in Boulder, Colorado. He performed locally with some of his musically talented high school friends and also toured with some of them.
Massé stopped practicing law when he moved to Denver because he focused on carrying out his slogan – Cover Music Cover the World.
“When I opened the YouTube channel – which is like my portal to the world – all of a sudden every concert had an unlimited audience,” he explained. “Not everyone will see that tonight, but they might see it eventually.”
The performer has also traveled the world doing live performances. He has had private exhibitions in Germany; weddings in the English countryside, Switzerland and Tuscany; and a charity concert in Australia, among other international concerts.
Upcoming concerts will take place in Maryland, New Jersey, Toronto, Massachusetts, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and Liverpool, England.
Massé praised family life with her two sons as well as her career. “I can – on a good day – be engrossed in the music I love and people pay me for it,” he concluded. “That’s pretty awesome.”
Mike Massé in concert in Chicago
When: 7-9pm September 10
Where: Madison Street Theater, 1010 Madison St., Oak Park
Information: 708-634-5700; madisonstreettheatre.org
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.