Monday 20 November 2017

Review: Steve Earle live at the Olympia

Steve Earle
Steve Earle
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Steve Earle has worn a lot of hats over the years; a guest actor in The Wire, a political activist and commentator, record producer and author. Earle is also noted for seven marriages and six subsequent divorces.

The country rock icon returns to his primary love with this Olympia date. Legend has it that Earle ran away from home at the age of 14 to follow his country rock hero Townes Van Zandt around Texas. This year, Earle turned 60 and boasts over fifteen studio albums to his name.

Earle is clearly a seasoned old pro at this stage of the game. A huge rug adorns the stage, which lends a homely studio vibe to the proceedings and allows Earle's backing musicians to well and truly get in the zone.

Opening with 'Baby Baby Baby (Baby)' and 'You're the Best Lover That I've Ever Had', Earle tackles a thrilling country rock marathon touching on all bases from his prolific career .

Still best known for his classic 1988 album of gritty country rock, Copperhead Road, Earle performs the title track with impassioned gusto.

Earle once said that song-writing is about empathy, regardless of whether you write love songs or political songs. He performs a song he wrote this year called 'Mississippi, It's Time' about the ongoing confederate flag controversy in America that flared following the massacre of nine people in South Carolina.

To Earle, Southern culture is about country, jazz, William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams. "Come on, Mississippi, Mississippi don't you reckon it's time that the flag came down," Earle sings.

He joins John Grisham, Morgan Freeman, legendary American football quarterback Archie Manning and a growing number of Southern Americans who want the confederate flag to be consigned to history.

It is just the latest timely instalment of a career that begun in 1982 documenting America through a singular blend of country, blues, folk and rock.Earle richly deserves to lauded alongside Bob Dylan and the giants of American music.

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