JACKSON - SARA EVANS - MORGAN EVANS
ROD LAVER ARENA - 4 OCTOBER 2013
- BORN TO BURN
It was the
end of a long and gruelling football season for many music starved fanatics
who invaded the tennis court from the bush and suburbs for the triumphant
return of Georgian superstar Alan Jackson.
Some, like this world weary warrior, had much less spring in their step
than Jackson's Melbourne debut in March, 2011.
The ravages of time and traffic prevented catching Novocastrian Morgan
Evans who kicked the dew off the glass for Sara - no relation.
songs from his two EPS and belated, yet to be released album.
Balancing trays of plastic cups of a vast array of liquid mood modifiers
during the descent from the ground level bars to the subterranean seats
below was a skill not on the syllabus of secondary and tertiary colleges.
was not a task I yearned for but it helped ensure some roaming patrons,
fresh from parched paddocks and suburban streets, had suffice stimulation
for the marathon set by the headliner and the 10 tune appetiser
by Missouri born and latter day Birmingham belle Evans.
At 42 the vibrant former dancing diva did justice to the short shorts
that exposed lithe legs that never once challenged the high heels
that may have brought less agile artists to a crash landing.
Evans kicked off with Born To Fly - an embryonic hit she
penned with Marcus Hummon and Darrell Scott.
was reprised bluegrass style on 2011 studio album Stronger
and a Greatest Hits, released here as a double CD for the
struck a familiar note with energized hits As If and Perfect
before A Real Fine Place To Start.
She thanked her road band, featuring bassist brother-co-writer Matt, multiple
guitarists, drums, keyboards and fiddle, between anecdotes about her extended
The singer also extolled virtues of local shopping with revelations about
a necklace bought in the Victorian capital - earlier in the day.
Evans also helped balance of trade between the two countries - one on
the rebound after the election - and her own on the edge of financial
paralysis after muscle flexing by Republicans, the party that once featured
her first ex-husband Craig.
The singer acknowledged her two touring daughters, on her shopping spree,
before debuting her new single Slow Me Down from an album not due
She also gave credit her to four younger sisters in song from her Boonesboro
farm era before joking about killing any local rednecks who looked too
closely at her daughters in her intro to radio friendly narrative hit
Suds In The Bucket.
Evans joked she and second husband Jay Barker - a former NFL quarterback
and latter day talkback radio host - had "seven brats" in their
That was an accessible entrée to urging patrons to support World
Vision, collecting tonight in the corridors of the stadium.
"There are many children without simple things like food, shelter
and water," she revealed.
"You can sponsor a child through World Vision."
She then featured Stronger from the Tim McGraw-Gwyneth Paltrow
movie Country Strong before a cover of Pink hit Just Give Me
Another cover of Roger Cook penned Crystal Gayle hit Talking In Your
Sleep preceded a fitting finale for roaming drink carriers - Neon
Trees song Everybody Talks.
- DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN
It was no
surprise headliner Jackson sub-consciously emulated John Fogerty, whose
tribute disc he graced between Australian tours, by acting out the title
of a previous Fogerty disc Déjà vu All Over Again.
Jackson's 25 song set was almost identical in content and sequencing,
to his Melbourne debut 18 months ago.
So was the line-up of his hotshot touring band The Strayhorns who have
been his stage sidekicks since 1989 - yes, Hawthorn won an AFL premiership
that year against Geelong.
But it was the Collingwood club insignia that scored the loudest applause
late in the marathon concert on the ever present video screens.
Jackson dialed repeat when he again opened with Bob McDill penned social
comment entrée classic Gone Country and segued into the
flippant I Don't Even Know Your Name.
The long tall troubadour remarked "it's pretty laid back up here,
I wrote this song as a young man" as he revived Living On Love
and the late Eddie Cochran relic Summertime Blues.
Jackson deviated from the 2011 sequencing with Small Town Southern
(Australian) Man, Hank Williams Jr eulogy The Blues Man and
adolescent reflection Little Bitty that enable interactive video
to prove children in the audience lowered the demographic.
He ploughed his family roots with Country Boy and paternal tribute
Drive (for Gene) that extolled his "hand me down Ford."
Jackson also praised the support by Australia for the U.S. after the Twin
Towers terrorist bombings in New York City on September 11, 2001.
"The Australian friendship and support mean so much to us,"
Jackson revealed, "and the faith, hope and love out of the Bible."
That support has grown by sheer necessity - invasion of Australia by foreign
and home grown terrorists born into a fanaticism exploited by the warring
urban tribes on the mean streets of our cities and suburbs.
Now, that's an avenue yet to be explored in song here by cutting edge
It was a salient segue for perhaps Jackson's finest original song Where
Were You When The World Stopped Turning?
The visual images, reprised from his 2011 concert, reinforced the wilful
waste of innocent lives.
Jackson perfected his mood swing with his George Jones tribute Don't
Rock The Juke Box.
He also recalled how his debut single "died a miserable death"
just before wife Denise went into foal for the first time.
He followed with embryonic hit Here In The Real World - the visual
version illustrated by movie images of celluloid hero John Wayne.
"Cowboys don't cry, and heroes don't die/ and good always wins/ again
and again/ and love is a sweet dream/that always comes true/ oh, if life
were like the movies, I'd never be blue."
won a radio/ he tuned it to a country show/ I was rocking in the cradle
to the crying of a steel guitar/Mama used to sing to me/ she taught me
that sweet harmony/ now she worries 'cause she never thought/ I'd ever
really take it this far/ singing in the bars and chasing that neon rainbow."
singer revealed the resurrected radio won by his father now has a
wider audience - the Country Music Hall Of Fame - as he introduced
another early chart topper Chasing That Neon Rainbow.
He also name checked Alabama, The Judds and Randy Travis - for whom
he opened on his ascent - as he explained the significance of his
collaboration with Travis on She's Got The Rhythm (And I've Got
Extraneous influences - Under The Influence album to be more
precise - prompted It Must Be Love before a leap into the present.
tear jerker So You Don't Have To Love Me Anymore, penned by nephew
Adam Wright and illustrated by a video filmed on Coney Island, appeared
to be the only song performed from his 2012 album 30 Miles West.
Then it was back to liquid levity with Pop A Top Again and Who's
Cheating Who, punctuated by As She's Walking Away with acoustic
guitarist Monty Allen clad in a beanie for his duet role as fellow Georgian
Zac Brown from their award winning #1 hit.
Marital nostalgia propelled Remember When before dance floor favourites
Good Time, with female dancers invading the stage without resistance,
and It's 5 O'clock Somewhere featuring a video cameo of duet partner
Jimmy Buffett in absentia.
Jackson and his Strayhorns romped down the home straight with Chattahoochee
and Where I Come From.
The latter, featuring a collage of Melbourne landmarks diverse as Fed
Square, Docklands, Flinders Street Station, National Gallery, bayside
beach boxes, trams, trains, trucks, The Espie in St Kilda and Yarra bridges,
seemed akin to the 2011 version.
The Melbourne Cricket Club members' section coat of arms was complimented
by diverse club emblems for Hawthorn and Collingwood football clubs, Melbourne
Heart, Melbourne Storm and Melbourne Victory. Conspicuously absent were
weight loss clinics, tattoo parlours, gymnasiums and bikie club houses.
Mercury Blues was, as always, a fitting finale that enabled the
artist to sign all apparel within distance.
There was little slack in the Strayhorns - pedal steel from Robbie Flint,
Mark McLurg's fiddle and mandolin, the honky tonk piano enriched the traditional
The Strayhorns did most of the work in the encore as the artist finally
ran out of plectrums and rode off into the neon moon with suffice autographs
to sate those in the mosh pit.
So was there a criticism?
Well, maybe we yearned to hear some originals from The Bluegrass Album
- a welcome spring release.
But Jackson may have been saving that for his Carnegie Hall concert on
October 28 after the American debut of videos for Blue Ridge Mountain
Song and Blacktop - two originals from the album that debuted
at #3 on U.S. charts.
1 - Gone Country
2 - I Don't Even Know Your Name
3 - Livin' on Love
4 - Summertime Blues
5 - Small Town Southern Man
6 - The Blues Man
7 - Little Bitty
8 - Country Boy
9 - Drive (For Daddy Gene)
10 - Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)
11 - Don't Rock the Jukebox
12 - Here in the Real World
13 - Chasing That Neon Rainbow
14 - She's Got The Rhythm & I've Got The Blues
15 - It must be Love
16 - Pop a Top
17 - So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore
18 - As She's Walking Away
19 - Who's Cheatin' Who
20 - Remember When
21 - Good Time
22 - It's Five O'Clock Somewhere
23 - Chattahoochee
24 - Where I Come From
25 - Mercury Blues
David Dawson, October 2013
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