Opening for pretentious romantic swellheads the Church and dippy romantic swellheads Let’s Active, brilliant romantic swellhead Tom Verlaine may alone well be worth the price of admission (though I gotta admit, the Church sure do sound purty). Back in the late 70s, Verlaine was the renowned leader of the seminal new wave band Television, a group that miraculously revitalized the tired old idea of “guitar rock” by combining intricate, extended, and superambitious song structures with the simple rhythmic thrust, stark presentation, and defiant attitude that gave new wave and punk their startling jolt. Now in the late 80s, new wave has been co-opted by the mainstream, punk has grown insular, and Television has long since split up, but in a marginal yet remarkable solo career, Tom Verlaine has gone on to quietly fulfill many of the musical possibilities his band had opened up. The records he has released every two or three years are more idiosyncratic and personal than his work with Television–they’re no longer on the cutting edge of new music–but they retain Television’s high standards of consistent, durable, and highly inventive musical exploration: almost every one is as hard and luminous as a gem. Verlaine’s career is the epitome of the kind of effort we ideally expect but rarely receive from our favorite unique and brilliant journeyman performers. Though I’ve learned to expect nothing in concert from people I’ve never seen, I still hope for a lot from someone like him. Thursday, Riviera Night Club, 4746 N. Racine; 769-6300.