Earle & Allison Moorer - The Forum - 6 November 2008
Earle at The Forum - 6 November 2008
Why is it
that Steve Earle always seems to tour in Australia at a time of political
importance, be it upheaval or otherwise? When I first saw him perform
in 1998 it coincided with the Dockers strike in Melbourne. This time it
was more politically positive, being the day after Barack Obama's victory
in the race for the American presidency.
and wife Allison Moorer last appeared here in Australia in November 2005,
shortly after their marriage. At the time they were accompanied by the
Dukes, but this time round they expressed a preference for a more intimate
performance, playing to seated patrons in solo acoustic mode.
So the lovely
old Forum Theatre was the venue chosen for the Melbourne show. It was
a sell out and a rare chance for this reviewer, anyway, to see Steve Earle
perform in civilized surroundings and sitting down.
the early part of the show, i.e. Krista Polvere's set, but I managed
to catch half of Allison Moorer's portion of the show.
well as having an attractive stage presence, Allison is a fine singer,
having a lovely expressive voice. Her latest CD, Mockingbird,
is a collection of covers by women singer songwriters, so most of
her set comprised songs from this album. She also sang a little
ditty about Australia which was one of her own early compositions.
there to catch her rendition of Patti Smith's Dancing Barefoot,
and Getting Somewhere the title track of her 2006 CD.
ended her set with Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, which she
explained she had been singing for the last eight years in the hope
that the American political climate would change for the better.
She obviously shares her husband's leftist politics.
Earle took the stage shortly after 9.000 pm he gave generously of his
time, performing for something like two hours. For the most part he played
solo, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. Steve ran
through a fine selection of his back catalogue which included several
of my personal favourites - Goodbye and Ellis Unit One,
a powerful and affecting anti death penalty song, to name a few. Also
during the early part of the show he sang My Old Friend the Blues,
Tom Ames' Prayer and Taney Town, which he admitted he'd
been mispronouncing for years.
Interestingly enough, there were no songs from his two "protest"
albums Jerusalem and The Revolution Starts Now. Steve and
wife Allison Moorer both expressed their delight at the result of the
American election, so perhaps Steve feels it is time to lay his hammer
down, though we were encouraged to sing our hearts out when he sang his
Pete Seeger tribute song, Steve's Hammer (for Pete).
Earle & Allison Moorer - Forum - 6 November 2008
was no break in the performance, the show was roughly divided into two
separate modes, so the second part was dominated by songs from his latest
album Washington Square Serenade and Steve was accompanied by DJ,
Neil McDonald (pictured in the background in the first photo) on a sound
effects console at the back of the stage. Allison came out to sing her
part in the duet Days Aren't Long Enough and stayed to provide
harmony vocals on Down Here Below and City of Immigrants.
He slipped in a version of Galway Girl from the Transcendental
Blues CD and wound up the show with Way Down In the Hole a
Tom Waits cover which is included on the Washington Square CD.
Steve revealed that he was working on a new album, a tribute to his old
friend and mentor Townes Van Zandt. The record will consist of all TVZ
songs, and he sang a very good version of Pancho & Lefty during the
encore as an example.
Though Steve Earle's voice sounded a little strained and hoarse early
in the program, it strengthened as the evening wore on. It was a splendid
night of music, and even if using a DJ is, to some Steve Earle purists,
like Dylan going electric, I thought the sound effects enhanced the overall
sound and were quite appropriate for the material.
Steve of course delivered several monologues, one quite timely -considering
the recent execution of the Bali Bombers - on the Death Penalty, which
Steve opposes vehemently and in which he includes Osama Bin Laden and
9/11 bombers as undeserving of the ultimate punishment.
As the audience filed out of the theatre at the end of the show, John
Lennon's Power To the People boomed from the speakers, reminding
us all that change can be brought about by pure democracy as witnessed
the day before in the American Presidential elections.
Steve Earle Set List
1. Steve's Last Ramble
2. Devil's Right Hand
3. My Old Friend The Blues
4. Some Day
5. Taney Town
7. Tom Ames' Prayer
8. South Nashville Blues
9. Ellis Unit One
10. Tennessee Blues
11. Jericho Road
13. Transcendental Blues
14. Sparkle And Shine
15. Days Aren't Long Enough
16. Down Here Below
17. City of Immigrants
18. Oxycontin Blues
19. Galway Girl
20. Steve's Hammer
21. Satellite Radio
22. Way Down In The Hole
1. Guitar Town
2. Pancho & Lefty
3. Copperhead Road
Review and photos by Anne Sydenham
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