‘Monday night my ass. It’s always Friday night, the 4th of July and Mother’s Day (When we play a show)…Don’t forget that last one, very important.’
Last night, Jason Isbell rolled into town, to rock a sold out show at The Sinclair. The man and his band (The 400 Unit) were preceded by a solo sets from local favorite Joe Fletcher and Isbell’s absolute sweetheart of a wife, Amanda Shires.
Shires took to the stage, with just a 4-string ukulele, to sing a “sad (song) one or one about murder”. Either way, her tone and her charming June Carter-Cashish wit, powered her through tracks off her upcoming album, which included a funny story of how she received a bag of tiger claws and whiskers, from a fan, that would make her ‘Bulletproof’.
Jason came out for a couple of the last songs, but didn’t contribute much singing, as he looked like he wanted to keep the spotlight on his beautiful wife and let her shine. Needless to say, I’d love to be invited to one of happy couple’s BBQs in Alabama.
Opening song: Flying Over Waters
Isbell and crew took to the stage to play songs off of his new album Southeastern. These songs are of redemption and finding love with his new wife. This gives Isbell the perfect blend of story telling and real life experience to make you believe everything he says. With the rapport between him, his wife on violin and the rest of the band, he comes off as a real genuine guy.
It was great to see people reacting positively to the new material. This was something that made him feel very appreciative. He said he loves to play the songs he wrote when he was, unbelievably, 21-22 years old with the Drive-By Truckers, but also to be able to progress as an artist was important to him.
As we were treated to classics, like Goddamn Lonely Love, Outfit and Never Gonna Change, a genuine (we think) story of his friend “Larry from Alabama”, who always had bad ideas, like selling pot out of his mothers basement, who worked at that County Sheriff office, you could sense the audiences appreciation back and a celebration of excellent music was had by all.
Just when we thought he was done, Isbell treated the loyal Monday night crowd with a four song encore, including a great version of the Rolling Stones’, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, to put the cherry on top of this Monday sundae.
After seeing such a great show like that, what might be considered disappointing is that a guy with this much talent, isn’t as popular as he should be in the country music scene. While others celebrate alcohol, his songs deal with it’s struggle and abuse; and where others are singing of ‘saving horses…’ (you know the rest), Isbell deals with the real emotions to find love.
And that’s where the where the disappointment ends, because I don’t think he cares. The authenticity of this man doesn’t lie. The quality and quantity of music he puts out far outweighs his “competitors” in this genre. While they are cans of cheap beer, Isbell is the “Johnnie Walker: Blue Label” of modern country music.
Though few will appreciate his craft, until it has aged; those who do, will be ever grateful they experienced it.