Earle definitely satisfies
Every so often, you’ll head to a concert expecting to experience something amazing — and then be stunned at how much your expectations were wrong.
I knew a solo acoustic show by Steve Earle would be great, but had no idea how fantastic it really would be.
The reason is simple.
Earle doesn’t need flash, a light show or any of the affectations you see in a lot of musicians these days.
He needs a microphone, his many musical instruments and, his most powerful tool of all, his amazing songs.
In his brown chinos and a plaid shirt, Earle — a man who
has captured the everyman image in so many of his works — looked like any ordinary guy when he walked out on the Sagebrush Theatre stage on Monday, June 4.
No opening act, no backing band — although he did note it’s one of the few times he’s performed without his wife, Allison Moorer — just a man who has been nominated 14 times for Grammy awards and won three.
A man now up for album and song of the year from the American Music Association.
A man who may be as well known for his political stances as he is for his music.
In fact, it led to one comical moment as he explained to the sold-out audience one of the instruments he was playing was a bouzouki.
“That’s not what we call it when we go through the airport security,” he told the crowd.
“Especially in my country.
“Especially if you’re me.”
It was that kind of banter, the homey, self-deprecating, occasionally militant (at least when he referenced George Dubya, for example), but perfect for the crowd.
The two hours included such vintage classics as City of Immigrants, I Ain’t Ever Satisfied, Jerusalem, The Galway Girl and Devil’s Right Hand — a song that led to one of the longer, more personal stories.
Before launching into what he called a gun-control song, he told of how, less than five months sober and out of jail, he ended up living with his teenage son in a trailer filled with guns.
“I didn’t see at the time the problem with being a peacenik living in a trailer full of guns,” he said.
His son took a gun and refused to tell him where it was, leading Earle to decide to take his boy to one of those wilderness camps for wayward teens.
“It’s not easy parenting when you’re just four-and-a-half months sober,” Earle said of his decision.
“They slept in tents. Now, it was January. I got a call at 4:30 the following morning from him telling me where the gun was.
“So, this is a gun-control song,”
Concerts at Sagebrush tend to have a code of etiquette, with people applauding, sometimes clapping along
This time, it was more raucous, more like a big family barbecue where the favourite uncle has taken the stage.
It was intimate, personal, fun, amazing and, when he launched into perhaps the one song most people know from his discography — Copperhead Road — deeply satisfying.
The crowd didn’t just give Earle a standing ovation. It roared, it screamed, it cheered not so much for the encore everyone always does but because everyone there knew they had witnessed something special.