Two guys, two guitars, a rare night to remember
Rodney Crowell on his first ever tour of Australia won acclaim everywhere he played. Those who had never heard of him before, became firm fans after seeing him perform live and those of us who have listened to his music for 30 or so years, became reconfirmed fans from the first song off the block.
It was a simple show at the Prince, just Rodney Crowell and Will Kimbrough on stage playing a guitar apiece, but it was magic. The simplicity allowed one to feel that special quality Rodney possesses as a live performer - very engaging, with a warm and dryly humorous personality.
Felicity Urquhart accompanied by partner Glen Hannah performed an energetic set as opener for the evening. Felicity entertained the crowd with songs off her latest CD Landing Lights. They included a song she co-wrote with Kim Richey who toured here in 2002 with Fred Eaglesmith and Jim Lauderdale as part of a song writers exhibition tour. The song is titled All Good Fun. She also performed Roller Coaster a song about the perils of stardom, Ernie's Daughter about horse racing and Time For A Change.
Rodney Crowell in this instance spotted the tramp on a chilly day wearing rags and offered him his warm coat. The tramp, in a dignified voice, refused and walked on.
After singing a few more songs which included Learning How to Fly and Earthbound, Rodney Crowell handed over to Will Kimbrough who performed a short solo set. He was wonderful both individually and in cahoots with Rodney Crowell. He played beautiful tasteful guitar and also has a great voice, which when joined in harmony with Rodney's reminds one of the Everly Brothers. I suppose it is no coincidence that Don Everly lends his vocals on one of the songs on Sex & Gasoline.
It was pretty balanced mix of old and new songs, and even included It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chewed Your Ass All Day Long, from the Cherry Bombs era.
The only cover song was Townes Van Zandt's Pancho & Lefty, but Rodney did end the main set with his own much covered song Ain't Living Long Like This.
Let it be said, that as a live performer Rodney Crowell is up there with best. He has charm and charisma and the simple format chosen for his first Australian tour was a perfect vehicle to showcase his wonderful songs. His distinctive voice has not in anyway been ravaged by time and with Will Kimbrough in the mix, the entertainment that night at the Prince was of the highest quality.
The audience, most of them of the baby boomer generation, showed their admiration and appreciation by giving the duo a standing ovation (those seated, I mean) at the end of the night. Rodney attempted to leave the stage, but relented and gave just one encore - I Know Love Is All I Need.
It was also pleasing that the Prince provided a seated alternative for those who find it hard to stand. Tour presenters Ragged Company sensibly realised the age of the likely audience and catered for this. It is to be hoped that they will take it upon themselves to bring Rodney Crowell back again. According to Will Kimbrough's Blog, the reason Rodney has not toured previously is that no one until now had offered him Business Class flights, the deal that this time brought him to these shores.
Review and photos by Anne Sydenham