Justin Townes Earle– The Gov – Friday 6 September 2019
Words Geoff Jenke
Justin Townes Earle can talk. And talk and talk. Sometimes insightful, sometimes funny, usually interesting and at one time quiet cringeworthy. If fact when he hit the stage, he told us “we got a lot of talkin’ to do”
Justin Townes Earle can also play and sing. His ability with the guitar something to behold. He makes no secret he is the son of the famous (Copperhead Road) Steve Earle and at times produces songs that are as good if not better than his famous father.
When introducing the second song, One More Night in Brooklyn, he told us of his dislike for Brooklyn and was told to “go west”. So, he did move, to Manhattan which he loved. The distance between the two is about 14 kms…. Such was the humour of Justin.
He told us “I’m an Earle, we don’t kid people… we bullshit” before launching into the title track of his new album, The Saint of Lost Causes. The new songs received as loud an applause as the older popular tracks.
The one cringeworthy moment came when he said we, as Australians, are as guilty as American in treatment of the indigenous people of the countries. While we cannot disagree with this, he backed it up with the comment “but the difference between you and America is we have guns. I own heaps of guns” and he seemed proud of this fact. “I wouldn’t walk down the main street of Memphis without a gun”. A sad state of affairs.
That took the wind out of my sails a bit but Justin soon bought me back to the reason we were there, his music. Stories and songs of his six-foot-tall mother (Mama’s Eyes) and his grand daddy, who taught Justin to drink, smoke and play poker (They Killed John Henry) gave some forgiveness to the gun comment.
When people called out for songs, he told them requests are not taken and if they sing out for a certain song, he would refrain from playing it. “I know how this works; I have been doing this a long time” he told the crowd with a smile on his face. Hard Livin’“is a fast number that I am not sure I can play more than once, but I will give it ago”. Justin then proceeded to astound us with the sounds he produced from the single guitar. I would have sworn there were multiple guitar players on stage.
Justin literally counted down the songs towards the end. “I am going to play 3 more songs and then go off stage and come back with two more, if your lucky”. He finished the main set with the beautiful Harlem River Bluesfrom the 2009 album of the same name.
Justin did return to the stage, sans a shirt, to an arousing cheer. “There is no C in country without the Carter family” he told us before playing The Carter Family’s Gold Watch and Chain. He then informed us that the most drunkenness Mother F’s band ever, were The Replacements and then closed out the night with a version of Can’t Hardly Wait.
Justin Townes Earle is a captivating performer and a brilliant guitarist who definitely does not live in the shadow of his famous father.
Support band Ricky Albeck and the Belair Line Bandkept the audience entertained with their brand of Neil Young inspired country rock. They however, describe their brand of music as centrelink, ciggie country rock. The song Lovely Bonesfrom their debut E.P. sounded beautiful and at times during the set one could hear the jangly guitars of The Byrds and riffs of Tom Petty. They closed the set out with a rock number “in case you had dozed off during the set”. Worth checking out.