EARLE - CORNER HOTEL RICHMOND - 30 MARCH 2012
every time that Steve Earle has toured Australia, there has been social
unrest in the form of industrial action or political change, giving the
leftwing troubadour an opportunity to air his views on the state of the
union. Despite there being no such action this time around, other than
the Republican primaries in the USA, Steve still was mindful of the dangers
of becoming complacent, but did not push it all that hard in his show,
singing only two political songs on the night.
at the Corner Hotel on Friday 30 March was a sell out, and conditions
got very hot and steamy as the crowd grew, and at least one person back
in the press fainted, causing a brief hiatus in Steve's performance.
Bryan live at the Corner Hotel
Country artist Lachlan Bryan, lead singer and songwriter of The Wildes,
opened the show with a short set, singing a number of songs from his debut
solo album Shadow of the Gun, as well as Wildes' tune Ballad
of a Young Married Man. He was a quality opening act, his song writing
being first class with such interesting songs as I'd Rather Sing In
Churches (I'm tired of being in bars), Almost Like Saying Goodbye,
murder ballad Lily of the Field and Whistle And Waltz where
he was joined by Zoe (didn't catch her surname) on the harmony vocals,
which on his record are sung by Kasey Chambers.
He had some
trouble with his ill fitting harmonica neck holder, but soldiered on cheerfully,
despite being unable to blow into it.
He was obviously delighted to be opening for Steve Earle and confessed
himself to be a fan.
Earle started his set with a few songs from his latest CD I'll
Never Get Out Of This World Alive, Waiting For The Sky,
following that with Gulf of Mexico, a tribute to his grandfather
which Steve introduced as a sort of sea shanty.
Moving chronologically in reverse, to his 2007 album Washington
Square Serenade he sang City of Immigrants and Tennessee
Blues, then it was way back to his 1986 debut album Guitar
Town for My Old Friend The Blues and Some Day.
Throughout his set he accompanied himself on guitar, mandolin and
an instrument he called a bouzouki - not an instrument to mention
while going through customs, Steve advised.
It was an interesting set list, Steve performing quite a few songs
that I have not seen him do before, or not for a very long time -
Now She's Gone from 1996 album I Feel Alright, and Dixieland
from bluegrass record The Mountain.
< Steve Earle live at the Corner Hotel
I was particularly
delighted that he performed Fort Worth Blues, as part of a tribute
to Townes Van Zandt, who was of course the young Steve Earle's mentor
back in the 1970s. Steve admitted he took some poetic licence with the
lyrics for Fort Worth Blues where he wrote "Paris, never was
my kind of town", confessing that the opposite was the case.
The Townes segment occurred half way through the show, with Steve recalling
his mentor with affection, mentioning some story about Townes and a mule
he rode over a mountain, saying that when he (Steve Earle) was a young
man he thought that it was the coolest thing he had ever heard, and that
even now thirty years on at the age of 57, he still thinks it's the coolest
thing he's ever heard. He then sang a Van Zandt song, mentioning in passing
that even though he had recorded a whole album of Townes Van Zandt songs
on his album Townes, this one was not on it. I couldn't identify it by
the lyrics, so it was probably an obscurity. Fort Worth Blues,
which Earle wrote on hearing of Townes death on New Year's Eve 1997, whilst
he was in Ireland. It's a wonderful obituary to his old friend and in
my opinion one of Steve Earle's most affecting songs.
A rendition of Pancho and Lefty rounded out the Townes segment,
with the audience singing along to the chorus.
At a Steve
Earle concert, the Steve Earle fan is almost as interesting as the artist.
They're a mixed bunch, predominately male and friendly, but one young
person of the female gender caught the eye up front.
lady positioned centre front seemed to think she was at a rock concert
or something, gyrating to the music and draping her torso over the stage,
much to annoyance of the persons standing next to her. The average Steve
Earle fan favours punching the air and singing along, rather than dancing.
Where I was standing, a number of desperate girls fought their way through
the mob to barge into the front stage area. One admitted to me when Steve
started popular favourite, Goodbye, that she loved the song and
it would make her cry. It did.
young woman stumbled to the front, looking near to collapse. It was very
hot and oppressive as I've said before, and she appeared to be close to
fainting, so I imagine being squashed in the crowd would have been very
unpleasant. Concerned neighbouring members of the audience offered her
support, one even tendering a paper fan, and she eventually recovered
her composure and disappeared back into the crowd.
Steve played for over two hours and sang, as far as I can estimate, twenty-two
songs in all. I wrote down the songs as they were played, but alas my
notes are illegible in some instances, hence the incomplete song list.
He finished his main set with his sole commercial hit Copperhead Road,
but was persuaded back for an encore, which gave him an opportunity to
recall the greatness of Woody Guthrie, and how the world needs him and
his ilk more than ever, before launching into political hymn Christmas
In Washington from 2001 CD El Corazon.
It was a great concert and a rare treat to see Steve Earle again in solo
Review and photos by Anne Sydenham
Steve Earle Set List
1. Written On The Sky
2. Gulf of Mexico
3. City of Immigrants
4. Tennessee Blues
5. My Old Friend The Blues
6. Some Day
7. Tom Ames' Prayer
8. God Is God
9. Every Part Of Me
10. South Nashville Blues
11. Townes Van Zandt song (unidentified)
12. Fort Worth Blues
13. Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)
14. Taney Town
15. ? (political song - unidentified)
16. Now She's Gone
19. Galway Girl
21. Copperhead Road
1. Christmas in Washington
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