Sunday, April 28, 2013

Steve Earle Smiles Through His Paramount Theater Show

I've seen Steve Earle three times: at the Lake Champlain Maritime 400 festival in 2009, with John Hiatt at the South Shore Music Circus in 2012 and last night at the Paramount Theater in Rutland VT. This is the first time I've seen him smile and look like he was really enjoying himself on stage.

From his website:
A protégé of legendary songwriters Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Earle quickly became a master storyteller in his own right, with his songs being recorded by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, The Pretenders, Joan Baez and countless others. 1986 saw the
release of his debut record, Guitar Town, which shot to number one on the country charts and immediately established the term “New Country.” What followed was an extremely exciting and varied array of releases including the biting hard rock of Copperhead Road (1988), the minimalist beauty of Train A Comin’ (1995), the politically charged masterpiece, Jerusalem (2002) and the Grammy Award Winning albums The Revolution Starts…Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007) and Townes (2009). I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (2011) is Steve Earle’s 14th Studio Album and shares the same name with his 2011 debut novel. Of the novel, Patti Smith stated, “Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit and cinematic energy he projects in his music. I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive is like a dream you can’t shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades.”

Earle is also an actor appearing in the critically acclaimed series The Wire, he also appeared in HBO's series Treme. He's appeared in spots on Law And Order and the feature film Leaves of Grass.

Earle, doing what he does best, took the Paramount stage at 9PM and played until 10:50, then brought the band out for two encores, two songs each. This was the second night of the tour promoting his new CD "The Low Highway" his 15th studio album released on April 16th on New West Records.
He played most of the songs on this new CD:
The Low Highway
21st Century Blues
Calico County
That All You Got
Love's Gonna Blow My Way
After Mardi Gras
Invisible
Burnin' It Down
Warren Hellman's Banjo

He also performed "I Thought You Should Know", "This City Won't Wash Away", and "Ben McCulloch". He introduced "You're Still Standing There" (good video click here of this song with his wife Allison Moorer) by saying "I'm used to playing this song with redheads. I recorded it with a redhead, well at least she was a redhead when we recorded it" (referring to his wife Allison.)
About an hour into his set he started to dig deeper into his CD collection and played "Guitar Town" (1986), followed by his hugely popular "Copperhead Road" (1988). He introduced The Dukes, saying for the second time tonight that this is the best incarnation of The Dukes, "the best band I've ever had on the stage" Will Rigby on drums; Chris Masterson on guitars, pedal steel;  Eleanor Whitmore on strings and  Kelly Looney on bass.
He closed the show with "Train A Comin'",  "Galway Girl" and "Down the Road." He played two two song encores which included a song he wrote for his young son recently diagnosed with Autism (April is Autism Awareness Month, 1 in 88 Children, 1 in 54 boys diagnosed annually ) "Remember Me", "City Of Immigrants" and "Revolution Starts Now"

The Mastersons opened and played for about 30 minutes performing songs from their CD "Birds Fly South" and a few brand new ones like "I Am Electric". (Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson are also part of The Dukes.) Their CD is available online and at the shows.
The show was good. It is quite a change to see Steve Earle angry about the current times but at least smiling and joking around on stage. At one point he joked about playing piano on a song for only the second time on stage. He said he spent a lot of time in New Orleans filming Treme, so he thought he could play piano. He said he played when he was young but he left home at 16 and "you couldn't hitchhike with the fucker" so he left it at home.

The sound mix was terrible, at least where we (Jay and I) were sitting. It was also pretty bad when we saw Steve and The Dukes in 2012 at the South Shore Music Circus (but when Hiatt took the stage at this same show, the sound was great.)

More performance images: http://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/SteveEarle/2013


Steve Earle and The Dukes
The Mastersons opened
Paramount Theater
Rutland, VT April 27, 2013
Copyright ©2013 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

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