Friday, February 11, 2005

Four Concerts in Four Nights - Act 1

So, this was the first of four nights of concerts and man what a night…

I remember seeing Allison Moorer a couple of years ago in Austin and really liking her. So, I bought her CD, which was good also. But as she released new CDs, first her live CD and then “The Duel”, the music moved more toward a style I really loved, with ragged distorted guitars playing off her beautiful voice. So, I was a bit disappointed when I realized that it was just going to be Allison without the band. But just the opposite, I was blown away. It almost feels like she holds back a bit with the bands, or maybe they overshadow her, ‘cause when it is just her and her guitar, she soars. Sometimes, as Deb said, you can hear her sister Shelby in her voice and sometimes you can’t. But it is always ringing true with what she is singing. Her half hour set was just way too short.

It was a year ago that I saw Steve Earle for the first time; again in Austin. I only knew 2 of his songs (one was based on a cover that someone else did) back then and his hour long set was pretty friggin good. A year or so later I knew most of his music and was still not prepared for what a full Steve Earle show is like. In rock there are only a handful of artists who not only perform great music but also know how to build and pace a show: Springsteen and Costello are the two best IMHO. Well, I’ve got to put Steve Earle right up there. His set was so well constructed without being polished or pretentious, that you could literally feel the rhythm of the set.

In a classic move, the pre-recorded music coming over the sound system was Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution will not be Televised”. The band came out to that music and then ripped through the title track of his new CD, “The Revolution Starts Now”. The entire first section of the show was political as Steve sang about revolution and people being left behind. In an interesting pacing move, Steve rarely said a word during this entire section; letting the music speak for itself. There were no slow ballads here, just hard driving rock and politics. After that first section, he slowed the pace, going to some acoustic guitars and mandolins and it then started making some speeches to go along with the music. It was a great move. We caught our breath as he talked about everything from unions to the draft. But we lost our breath every time Allison came out to sing with him. Her beautiful voice soaring with his rough but passionate vocals made for a potent combination. He picked up the pace slowly until he was back in full gear with songs like “Cooperhead Road”. The concert had a circular feel to it at the end as he covered the Beatles’ “Revolution” and then played the other version of “The Revolution Starts Now” (for those of you who don’t have the CD, it is the first and last track). It was such a well designed show, I was in complete awe. The two encores were lots of fun (the Stones’ “Sweet Virginia” was great) but he was determined to leave the club on point and so he finished with The Chambers Brothers, “Time Has Come Today”.

What an amazing show, and a great way to start our 4 concerts in 4 nights. Maria joined Deb and I for this show and we all agreed that The Finn Brothers are gonna have to really work hard to top this.

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