Review: Steve Earle, 28th Sept Belfast

‘The peoples’ lyricist’By Tommy Black On September the 28th the first official evening of autumn, the man with ‘attitude’ Steve Earle performed at the Open House Festival 2009, at Customs Square, Belfast.  

Two hours of an energetic acoustic set, accompanied with a narrative that was both witty and commutative. An audience made up of a variety of age groups, from the young fans who for various reasons are drawn to his unique form of music, and to an old timer like me who had a limited knowledge as to what he has recorded.

Each age group was rewarded with the skills and talent of Steve Earle, the peoples’ lyrists and musician. What seemed to come over was that overwhelming loyalty from the fans. The way they responded to each number he sang and played was that of people who agreed with what he has written into his lyrics and music. In return, Earle kept this continual narrative between each song, ranging from the times when he was not so compos mentis, out off his brains, due to drink and drugs, also to the time when he was homeless. All these stories were made to be laughed with, and rightly so. But there was one story that he kept referring to. That was about his friendship, and sometimes not so friendly relationship with his mentor and contemporary, Townes Van Zandt (I’m led to believe Steve called his son Justin Towns Earle, after Townes). Even though the stories were humorous, I could sense a more profound and meaningful relationship between the two.

On the menu was Blues, Country and a little bit, just a little bit of so called ‘Irish’ with ‘Galway Girl’. What got my juices flowing were ‘Copperhead Road’ and Tom Wait’s ‘Down In The Hole’ and many, many more too numerous to mention, but not forgotten. 

What really had a enormous impact on me (besides the music) was Earle’s wit, with off the cuff lines the likes of, ‘there are two kinds of music, there is skip de do da and the blues, well I know what kind of music I’m going to play’. And play he did. A non-stop performance from start to finish.

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