Last Friday I attended the final of the autumn concerts I had pre-booked, and it rounded off splendidly the quartet of outstanding shows I was fortunate to witness this March.
The show at the Corner Hotel was a sell out, so it was lucky we got there early enough to be among the first in line for a good position up against the stage. There are several advantages to being up the front – you don’t have people standing in front of you; it is great for taking photos, and there is more space (surprisingly) and breathing room as you are not totally surrounded or hemmed in by the crowd. Conditions got very hot and steamy as the crowd grew, and at least one person back in the press fainted, causing a brief hiatus in Steve’s performance.
Local Alt Country artist Lachlan Bryan, lead singer and songwriter of The Wildes, opened the show with a short set, singing a number of songs from his debut solo album Shadow of the Gun, as well as Wildes tune Ballad of a Young Married Man. He was a quality opening act, his song writing being first class with such interesting songs as I’d Rather Sing In Churches (I’m tired of being in bars), Almost Like Saying Goodbye, murder ballad Lily of the Field and Whistle And Waltz where he was joined by Zoe (didn’t catch her surname) on the harmony vocals which on his record are sung by Kasey Chambers.
Steve Earle started his set with a few songs from his latest CD I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, Waiting For The Sky, following that with Gulf of Mexico, a tribute to his grandfather which Steve introduced as a sort of sea shanty.
Moving chronologically in reverse, to his 2007 album Washington Square Serenade he sang City of Immigrants and Tennessee Blues, then it was back to his 1986 debut album Guitar Town for My Old Friend The Blues and Some Day.
It was an interesting set list, Steve performing quite a few songs that I have not seen him do before, or not for a very long time - Now She’s Gone from 1996 album I Feel Alright, and Dixieland from bluegrass record The Mountain. I was particularly delighted that he performed Fort Worth Blues, as part of a tribute to Townes Van Zandt, who was of course the young Steve Earle’s mentor back in the 1970s. Steve admitted he took some poetic licence with the lyrics for Fort Worth Blues where he wrote “Paris, never was my kind of town”, confessing that the opposite was the case.
He accompanied himself on guitar, mandolin and an instrument he called a bouzouki - not an instrument to mention while going through customs, Steve advised.
At a Steve Earle concert, the Steve Earle fan is almost as interesting as the artist. They’re a mixed bunch, predominately male and friendly, but one young person of the female gender caught the eye up front.
The tattooed lady positioned centre front seemed to think she was at a rock concert or something, swaying and dancing to the music and draping her torso over the stage, much to annoyance of the persons standing next to her. Where I was standing, a number of desperate girls fought their way through the mob to barge into the front stage area. One admitted to me when Steve started popular favourite Goodbye, that she loved the song and it would make her cry. It did.
And another young woman stumbled to the front, sweating profusely and looking near to collapse. It was very hot and oppressive as I’ve said before, and she did look close to fainting, so I imagine being squashed in the crowd would have been very unpleasant. Concerned neighbouring members of the audience offered her support, one even tendering a paper fan, and she eventually recovered her composure and quitted the area.
Steve played for over two hours and sang, as far as I can estimate, twenty-two songs in all. I wrote down the songs as they were played, but alas my notes are illegible in some instances, hence the incomplete song list.
It was a great concert and a rare treat to see Steve Earle again in solo mode.
Steve Earle Set List
- Written On The Sky
- Gulf of Mexico
- City of Immigrants
- Tennessee Blues
- My Old Friend The Blues
- Some Day
- Tom Ames’ Prayer
- God Is God
- Every Part Of Me
- South Nashville Blues
- Townes Van Zandt song (unidentified)
- Fort Worth Blues
- Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)
- Taney Town
- ? (political song – unidentified)
- Now She’s Gone
- Galway Girl
- Copperhead Road
- Christmas in Washington