Back in the '70s, Wreckless Eric (born Eric Goulden) was part of Stiff Records' stable of new-wave eccentrics, along with the likes of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Ian Dury. While achieving some success in the U.K. and Europe, he barely qualified as a cult figure on this side of the Atlantic. And that's a damn shame. Eric created a string of wonderfully ragged, quirkily catchy tunes like "Whole Wide World," "Semaphore Signals," and "Reconnez Cherie" that rivaled his labelmates' hits. Wearying of music-business stresses, he has recorded only the occasional album since 1980.
This gig marks the final one on a rare American tour. He did an opening set last month at the Beachland; however, this show is all Eric (although expect singer-songwriter Amy Rigby to sit in on a few songs). He might be a little less "wreckless" these days -- having kicked the bottle 20 years ago -- but he's still a funny and rascally performer. He's also thrilled to be playing Akron. "It's always been a name with legendary status," he says, fondly recalling Chrissie Hynde, Devo, and Stiff's Akron Compilation, with its "ridiculous" scratch-and-sniff album cover.