so after having the 5th ticket to see him last time and being denied by the greedheads that constituted the Civic (home of the greatest fire rating in CHCH), I finally saw Mr Earl last night at the James Hay theatre. I will try and form a more coherent review later but these impressions, whilst my ringing ears are fresh, may suffice.
moorer opened the show, the pretty gurl with an acoustic guitar routine, and played some pleasant, if not somewhat bland, songs. her voice, however, was outstanding, and it is very possible that with a few more years under her hat she could deliver something outstanding... but for now I'd take a Lucinda Williams (or even Kathleen Edwards) CD over anything I heard from her (which may say more about my inclination towards the gritter side of the tracks than anything). special mention must be made however of her searing version of Carrickfergus (of which Van Morrison and the Chieftans did a sublime version on Irish Heartbeat), with eare on mandolin... there's something brilliant when traditional irish meets nashville and reminded me of bap kennedy's domestic blues, a wonderful irish/americana gem that earle produced.
earle was a pretty dynamic, if ramshackle, frontman who brought all guns blazing to the stage. amerika v6.0 was pretty dynamic, and there were plentiful highlights (guitar town, even - god forbid - copperhead road, but harlem man was up there as was many of the tracks off jerusalem), but more often than not arle was hampered by a sound mix that was as murky as american foreign policy. the guitars were too loud, earle's predisposition to mubly/ talk got lost in the mix, and I felt sorry for those who didn;t know the words as you wouldn't have been able to make out more than 20 all night...
throw in some heartfelt between song banter about the US, and NZ, with a dedication of the show to Rod Donald, and you walked away feeling that you'd seen steve earle in fine, beligerent form. And certainly when he dropped the electric for the acoustic and brought (new wife) alision moorer on stage to sing with him the band sounded as good as any I've heard.
but once again i'm left despairing over the shit quality of Christchurch venues. we need them to get these artists to come down, but i'm not sure how many people would want to step foot in the james hay again after last night's fisher and price my first sound desk mix.
enjoy the long weekend,
5 months ago