Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Steve Earle

Crossposted at HickoryWind.

Setlist. Ramble about it coming soon, after a nap. in fact, now.

Setlist now below the fold.

Steve Earle and The Dukes with Allison Moorer
The Basement, Sydney
Nov 14

The first happy thing to report -- and this will only be meaningful to those familar with The Basement but should be rejoiced in by music lovers universally -- is that they got rid of the flamin' stupid dining tables, and with them the posers with their forever rattling cutlery and clinking glasses, table service blocking the view and general smugness. Their blessed absence turns what is often an unpleasant venue -- standers cramped up the back around the bar, bludging gormands taking up acres of real estate down the front -- into a quite nice space. Of course the drink prices are still a national scandal (Cascadegate -- $6 a bottle!!!) but if it lasts some of the many Basement-haters of my acquaintance might be persuaded to give the joint another go.

Allison Moorer. You know she's, to quote George Jones -- hey, I gotta get country music in here somewhere, Stevie boy sure as hell ain't gonna provide it. ;-) -- hotter than a two dollar pistol. Not that I've ever thought her unattractive, God no, I just haven't thought of her much at all. Not really my scene, you know chicks, but the way she went all sloe-eyed around the audience with that hair and in that strappy green thing, one almost felt like blushing. Our Steve has never really lacked what you might call self-belief but even he's gotta be standing in the wings thinking "man, how the hell did I get so damn lucky?" (add a few stronger expletives to make it authentic Steve-speak). If he's got half a brain that's what he's thinking anyhow. She was good, just solo and acoustic with hubby playing mandolin on one track. The audience was rather rapt and attentive, which SE thanked us for later.

SE was out here just in 2004 and its rare to get a tour to this part of the world without an album to promote or a specific reason, so I thought -- dared to dream -- that he might be bringing a more countryfied line up of the ever changing Dukes and that was the reason for the follow up so soon. Since the show was pretty much exactly the same as 18 months ago -- heavily weighted to the last two albums, thrashy guitars and reverb -- I guess it really is just an excuse for an around the world honeymoon and to learn to surf.

My bias is definately for old skool Steve, the cars'n'girls'n'blacktops one and since Transcendental Blues is very much been diminishing returns for me with the albums. It's not the guitar rock I don't like, when I watch the E Street band I think, "hmmm, three lead electric guitars -- not nearly enough!"

It's not the politics either ... well, it partly is. But it isn't. It's not a disagreement on the issues, though he's far more of a rabble rouser and conspiracy theorist than I'll ever be. I wore the Dukes t shirt I bought in '04 to a union event (Aussies reading will know the one I mean) today and I appreciated his comments on the issue during the show. It's also true he's always had social comment in his songs, but I'm a big believer that when it comes to narrative -- show, don't tell. The most effective "message" song of the night was Harlan Man, a story rather than an op-ed. Plus the slightly rocked up, mandolin lead sound really kills.

Off his most recent albums only Home to Houston really rises to the level of the great tradition of popular songs with social meaning but also lasting power. It could be a lesser entry in a list which would include Born in the USA and And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. Amerika v6.0? Yawn, not so much. At his worst -- Jerusalem, I'm looking at you -- these songs drift into banality and never recover. But .... The Dukes of course are one tight, hot band and Steve a great performer so even these songs rock out live.

So anyway, I obviously don't mind too much since I had a great time last night, still buy all his records as soon as I can, I'll buy the next one and I am going to his two Sydney gigs at $60 a throw. The next is on the 26th. It's still Steve Earle after all, and he can do anything he likes in my books. He does his thing in his way, I react in my way and we're all still mates.

Hearing Copperhead Road always reminds me of when that was a cross over hit when I was 11. Actually Steve doesn't look much older than that in the video for that song.

One thing I never thought I'd see at a SE gig was on-stage snogging. But there they are, Steve and Allison mincing around grinning like the proverbial. Good on them, the crazy kids.

Allison Moorer:
Will You Ever Come Down
Let Go
Soft Place to Fall
Intro: the first song she ever wrote when she was 7 was about Australia: "it was all about koalas and kangaroos and Christmas in Summer and shit"
New untitled song, possibly about a Hurricane Katrina type of event
All Aboard
Carrickfergus (Steve on mandolin)

Steve Earle and the Dukes:
The Revolution Starts Now
Home to Houston
Conspiracy Theory (with Allison)
Ashes to Ashes
Amerika v6.0
What's A Simple Man to Do
Rich Man's War
Comin' Around (with Allison)
You're Still Standing there (with Allison)
In my notes here I've written: long lecture about democracy and the labour movement
Harlan Man (dedicated to "everyone in the room with a union card" plus exhortation to get out in the streets today)
Copperhead Road
Condi Condi
I Thought You Should Know
Transendental Blues
F the FCC
Revolution Starts Now
Revolution (the Beatles one)

Guitar Town
Sweet Virginia (with Allison)

Time Has Come Today

There was another song somewhere there in the encore that I missed. UPDATE: Thanks to Marilyn on the Exit O Steve mailing list for pointing out the missing song is prob a George Harrison cover, Isn't It a Pity.

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