Last night it was Steve Earle at the Southern Theater in Columbus.
I’d never been to the Southern Theater, but it looks lovely on the website. Upon arrival I’m quite pleased that there’s a parking garage directly across the street which is offering $3.00 “Special Event” parking. Can’t beat that. I park, walk across the street, pick up my ticket at Will Call and make my way in. The place is gorgeous! My seat is in the front row, almost uncomfortably close for an intimate acoustic show such as this.
Allison Moorer was amazing. I’d have to say that she’s probably the most technically gifted of any of the singers I’ve ever heard live. She really showcased her voice on her version of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”, as well as on Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”. I think I may have to pick up her new album, Mockingbird, whereupon she pays tribute to some of her favorite female singer-songwriters. Thanks to this performance, I think Allison Moorer has earned a place on my ‘favorite female singer-songwriter’ list.
When the lights went down for Steve Earle, Steve wasted no time, bounding to the stage and immediately launching into “Steve’s Last Ramble”. What we have here is a quieter, dare I say, gentler Steve Earle. Through the course of the night he spoke of politics only briefly. I loved his line that he knew that if there were a candidate he supported the best thing he could do for them was “stay as far the fuck away as I can from ’em”. You can tell that the angry young man still dwells within (which Steve alluded to, saying he’s “working on a bunch of shit”), but for now he’s been pushed to the background by a Steve Earle who seems very much in love with (his wife) Allison Moorer, his adopted home of New York City, and of course, just playing music.
He played much of his set unaccompanied, then was joined by a DJ (yes a DJ, dropping beats and what-not) for a few songs. There has been some pretty heated discussion regarding Steve’s choice to use a DJ, but I really felt like it worked. I don’t know that I’d want the DJ out there for the whole set, but for the songs he played on (such as “Satellite Radio”, “Oxycontin Blues”, “CCKMP” and “Transcendental Blues”) it worked perfectly, to my ear.
Allison Moorer also came back out, lending her guitar playing and beautiful voice to a few tunes, including the lovely duet “Day’s Aren’t Long Enough” from Washington Square Serenade.
One of the highlights of the night for me was when Steve (unaccompanied) played the powerful “Billy Austin”. The intimate venue, being so close to the stage, it was truly transcendent. Another high point was Steve’s amazing guitar picking on “Tom Ames’ Prayer”, the constant touring has definitely kept his chops honed. I also got a good laugh when, after playing “City of Immigrants” Steve said; “In case you’re wondering, this instrument is called a bouzouki everywhere except airport security. There it’s ‘a banjo or something’.”
All in all, a fantastic show; 3 hours well spent.
I hit the Waffle House on the way home for some coffee, hashbrowns, and a ham & cheese omelet. The perfect ending to a great night.
Here’s another review, by Joel in Columbus.