Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Steve Earle, Colston Hall Bristol May 24th 2013.


I went to a great concert last night at the Colston Hall in Bristol.It was Steve Earle And The Dukes.I first heard of Steve about ten years ago because a lot of my internet friends were always going on about how great he was.A friend in Toronto called Misty sent me a double CD compilation of Steve's songs and a friend of mine from the pub Colin who is a Steve Earle fanatic burned me off two of Steves recent albums,Washington Square Serenade and I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive.I was hooked,i loved Steves gravelly voice and the great songs and i liked Steves socio-political left wing views and his campaigns against the death penalty in America and other issues.I saw his wife Alison Moorer in 2005 when she played the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury and she introduced her soon to be husband Steve Earle and he sang one song with her but i can't remember what it was now.
When i heard that Steve was playing in Bristol i knew we had to go and see him so i bought a bunch of tickets for my friends and seven of us met up last night in The Crown.There was Colin & Sharon,Chris and Chrissie,Sharon's son Kevin,Dave and me.A quick pint in the pub and we piled into two taxis and caught the 5.38 train to Bristol.It was a cold and windy evening but two carrier bags of booze kept our spirits high.At Bradford On Avon my sister Margaret and her partner Wayne joined us on the train so that made a merry gang of nine of us.We soon arrived in the great seafaring city of Bristol and two more taxis zipped us to the Colston Hall.The building is named after Edward Colston a rich merchant who was pockets a jingle in the olden days through slave money which is an unfortunate part of Bristol's history.In recent years it has been been modernised with a brand new foyer and bar area which is where we hurried to.They have local bands playing in the bar area most nights which is a nice touch and we got chatting to an old guy called Clarence who had just come in to listen to the bar music.I had some spare tickets so i gave one to Clarence which was my good deed of the day.We went outside for a ciggie and i took some photos of our gang and Steves bus which was parked outside.
Then it was time for the support band The Mastersons who were introduced by Steve.They are a married duo Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson who have a brand new album out now called Birds Fly South and are also part of Steve's band The Dukes.I particularly like Eleanor's violin playing and Chris's guitar sound.I must admit though that before the end of their set i returned to the bar for another drink before the interval rush.Then it was time for the main man and his band.As well as the Mastersons i think other band members include Will Rigby and Kelly Linney if i remember correctly.They are a great band anyway.There was a huge battery of instruments at the side of the stage for the band.The roadies certainly had their work cut out for the instrument changes.The first song they performed was the eponymous title track of Steves new album Low Highway.I immediately regretted that i hadn't bought the album and familiarised myself with the songs because i had to concentrate really hard to make out the lyrics.I looked up the words to this song this morning and they are brilliant. Heard an old man grumble and a young girl cry
A brick wall crumble and the white dove fly
A cry for justice and a cry for peace
The voice of reason and the roar of the beast
And every mile was a prayer I prayed
As I rolled down the low highway.


This was followed by another song from the new album,the more upbeat Calico County which i also enjoyed.Another great song off Low Highway i also really liked later in the concert was called Invisible,a portrait of somebody living on the margins of society.I started trying to write a set list in my trusty moleskine notebook but i soon gave up because i soon realised there are vast gaps in my knowledge of Steve Earle songs.This is an issue that i need to address pronto.Basically i didn't know the names of the songs so i gave up on my set list and enjoyed the show.Songs i particularly remember though include the crowd pleaser Copperhead Road,21st Century Blues,Hear That Train a Comin',My Old Friend The Blues.The Revolution Starts Now,(Some manic guitar in that one!) Warren Hellman's Banjo,and Remember Me.Steve Talked a bit between the songs and he said some very moving words about autism.I think he and Alison have an autistic son.Steve did a song from a show called Treme which i liked but i can't remember what it was now.The encore was the Stones song Mothers Little Helper which was great and a lot of people sang along to that one.As it was Bob Dylan's birthday he finished by singing Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues which was great.During this song i got out of my seat and walked right down the front.Just as Steve was leaving the stage he was picking up his stuff right in front of me and i snapped the best picture i could of him.
After the show Steve came to the foyer to sign merchandise and i would have loved to have bought a signed copy of the new album but the queue was too long and we had a train to catch.The gang caught the 11.20 train and we got home tired but happy after a great night so thank you very much Steve Earle and The Dukes.