Melbourne Recital Centre
Steve Earle has been to Australia ten times – from his drug addicted years to the on-the-wagon years. From solo to with band and I’ve seen most tours. An early solo show at the Metro was stunning.Billy Austin -I can still remember him singing that.Then he came with Buddy Miller and band at the same venue showcasing El Corazon. Then the Ashes to Ashes tour a favourite period for me. And then he got a bit meh. I saw him with Allison Moorer the night Obama got elected. Talk about flat – I’d have hated for Obama to have lost. Then the most recent tour, (was it last year?) was with the Mastersons at a packed stand up rock venue, the Forum. They featured Terraplane, his recent blues album which I think is a bit pedestrian in the main, and the show was too.
He is back again coz the Byron Bay Blues fest have him on the bill so he can keep affording to bring his band and then go boogie boarding at Byron.
So here I am, fronting up again. I was curious how divorce number 7 and his travelling through Europe by bus and rail had affected his performances and his songwriting. Plus a comfy seat venuefor once.
The Mastersons opened and were pretty damn good especially Eleanor’s vocals.Then Steve comes out ,Will Rigby left the band at end of 2015 and Brad some ex Ryan Adams is on the skins. The unmistakably massive Kelly Looney still on bass.
He still looks like Alan Ginsberg who he refers to self deprecatingly during the show. Baby Baby Baby opens and a few more of those meat and potatoes blues off Terraplane open and I’m sliding in my seat.
But he switches to acoustic for My Old Friend The Blues, Copperhead Road, bluegrass meets celtic for Galway girl, South Nashville Blues ( such a classic) bookended deliberately with CCKMP. He is telling stories, even laughed as Kelly did a jig with his double bass during Galway girl.This guy is having a good time despite the polite crowd. Howling wolf’s 42 20 blues and more off Terraplane but the blues is louder the guitars grittier and the blues is good. Hey Joe gets a guernsey.
Unusually periodically the lights are raised or lowered, there seems more thought into the mix in the set list than his usual strap on the guitar and go.
A couple of encores including The Revolution Starts Now then Wild Thing to close and we’re done. Pretty good show. Not the best I’ve seen but not far off and far better than I expected. Not much new in the songs department, he has got an album with Shaun Colvin in the works but he seems to still be leaning towards the blues.
Old, bloody old. Made me feel like a youngster. Half the row in front seemed inconitnent- they were up and down like yo yos. The seniors were no doubt lured, like me in part, by the refined surrounds of the Recital Hall instead of a sticky carpet venue
It made me think..
This guy can do a lot of different stuff. For mine the stuff on acoustic stands out. In an interview he said for the divorce there was an inventory of all he had written and he commented you know I’ve written some pretty good songs. Damn right. Mid-set he played Better Off Alone, it was gut wrenching to listen too. Probably true sadly, may be playing havoc with his heart but bachelorhood, based on this show, ain’t hurting his muse.