Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Steve Earle @ Roundhouse 18/02/2008

First gig of 2008, and it is hard to imagine a more enjoyable one than spending a few hours with Mr & Mrs Earle, some guitars, and a guy with a set of decks.

Alison Moorer (Mrs E) kicks off things with a shortish, but wonderful set consisting of a couple of old songs, and a few numbers from her latest album of covers, including good versions of Joni Michell's, 'Both Sides Now' and Patti Smith's, 'Dancing Barefoot' (as originally produced by Todd on the album, Wave). I like Moorer's voive. Like that of her sister Shelby - whose new album is also due in the next couple of months - it has a clean soulful quality. This is particularly highlighted by her choice of finishing song, Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come'. That she does it justice and then some with just voice and guitar sets the bar high for husband Steve.

This is the third time, I have seen Earle, but the first time without the Dukes. Can he hold his own just acoustically? Hell yes. We got Devils right Hand, Copperhead Road, Transcendental Blues, Someday, My Ol' Friend the Blues, Jerusalem, Galway Girl and others plus I think just about all of the last album. We also got a rare performance of Little rock 'n' roller, dedicated to his kids, his brother's kids and his Dad, who died over Christmas.

But the highlight for me had to be hearing Billy Austin live (one of best anti death penalty songs ever written, if you ask me). It is one of those songs that almost brings me to tears when I hear it. It is in moments like this, as well as on songs such as on Jerusalem and on Sparkle and Shine (written for Moorer) that you realise just how good Earle is, and how crap most other people are. We are not worthy. Party on.

Oh, just realised hadn't explained the decks. Well, as Earle recorded most of his last album on his PC, there is a lot of drum machine and a few bits of scratching, so he brought someone along to do those bits, so that the new album bits were as heard - sort of - as on the album. It worked.