The Prince of Wales, St Kilda - Friday, 2 April 2004

Steve Earle strode onto the stage shortly before 10.00pm, not to start his own performance, but to introduce Serena Ryder, a young Canadian singer who is currently touring Australia.

Serena demonstrated her considerable talent with several songs, some unaccompanied and others with guitar. I failed to take note of the songs she sang except for Hank Williams' "Love Sick Blues", which song she rendered with verve. She has a remarkable voice, powerful and bluesy and I'm sure we will be hearing a lot more of her in the future.

Serena Ryder

After Serena's set, the crowd, a friendly and enthusiastic one, jostled for position in expectation of the main act. An interlude of 20 minutes ensued during which time we watched the roadies test guitars, check various archane machines and test the audience's patience.

Steve Earle - Live at The Prince - 2 April 2004

At about 10.30 Steve's show began with a rousing, rocking rendition of "What's A Simple Man To Do" closely followed by "Ashes to Ashes" and "Conspiracy Theory" from the "Jerusalem" album. This set the tone for the concert - rock 'n roll all night long, getting louder and louder as the night progressed.

The song list throughout the evening comprised songs from most of Steve Earle's last five recordings with one or two new ones from his next record to be released later this year. It appears that this new record will be, like "Jerusalem", in the protest song mode. Earle has said that this will continue until the Bush Administration has been removed. Then he will write more of what he terms "chick" songs.

After several more songs which included "My Old Friend the Blues" and "Taney Town" Steve Earle told a story about the Quecreek Mining disaster as an introduction to "Harlan Man".

Swapping his guitar for a banjo, Steve launched into an uptempo version of "Train a Comin" followed by "The Truth", "Copperhead Road", "Guitar Town" and "Billy Austin" before his next monologue. It was on baseball where he described the film "Field of Dreams" as a "chick movie for guys" and made some disparaging comments on the game of cricket (something along the lines of baseball only takes a day to play whereas a game of cricket goes on for 5 days). This monologue segued into "Some Dreams".

This was followed by "Hurtin' You, Hurtin' Me", "Go Amanda" and "John Walker's Blues".

At this point Steve paused to comment on Melbourne and The Prince venue, stating about the former that it was the first time he had been in Melbourne when it wasn't raining. Of the latter he confided that he had written the song "Jerusalem" in this very place the last time he toured here. Naturally he sang that song next.

"Transcendental Blues" and "Amerika v.6.0 (The Best We Can Do)" ended the main show.

Steve Earle and the Dukes came back out for two encores, the first a short one where they performed "Hard Core Troubadour" and the Rolling Stones "Sweet Virginia".

Steve opened the second encore with a new song, "The Revolution Starts Now" then sang "NYC" from El Corazon. Another new song, "The Time Has Come" was also part of the encore. Next he sang the old classic "Let's Get Together" that Steve said he had been singing since the 1970's. "What's So Funny About Peace Love And Understanding", where all the band and Serena Ryder joined in the chorus, was a fitting end to a wonderful concert.

The current Dukes who comprise Eric Roscoe Ambel on guitar, Kelly Looney on bass, Will Rigby and Steve's brother Patrick on drums provided superb support. Steve, himself, played guitar, mandolin, harmonica and banjo.

The show lasted for approximately two hours, and despite the noise level and the fact that it was a standing only venue, those two hours were among the best this reviewer has ever passed.

Steve Earle and Eric "Roscoe" Ambel

Text and photos by Anne Sydenham 2004

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