Written by Samuel Barker
Apr 25, 2008 at 08:00 PM
ImageIt takes a special kind of bravery to stand in front of 1000 people with just a guitar and your songs. Of course, with all the trials and tribulation that Steve Earle has seen, this was a walk in the park, most certainly.

Earle is one of Houston’s finest sons. From his early years in the city til tonight, his songs told about life lived here in America. His history is one like many in the city of Houston, a story of mistakes and redemption.

The stripped down set showed how Earle created his works and gave a crystal clear look at the themes Earle wanted to touch on. Songs about sitting on death row, living a downlow life and just being abandoned by a woman…or abandoning a woman. No matter the theme, the songs run through with an honesty from someone who has been to the bottom and had first hand experience of this type of life or knew people who experienced these things.

Earle opened the show with Steve’s Last Ramble, but it wasn’t until his second and third song choice, The Devil’s Right Hand and My Old Friend the Blues, that the set took off. The audience sang along, which was clearly audible in the bare bones presentation. People applauded, yelled out song titles and had a blast. About mid-way through the set, Earle let loose with a humorous moment to quiet a loud fan calling for songs: “You’ve never been to one of these shows before, huh? Basically I play whatever the fuck I want. If you don’t like it, I sincerely apologize…and now you can’t have your money back, my ex-wives need it.”

Earle had me second guessing on his decision to add a DJ to his acoustic set, but in the end, it was tasteful and added a nice pickup to the set. Think more of a looping drumbeat and sound effects of DJ scratches and turntable tricks, though they did surface here and there. The sound worked. It gave a backdrop to contrast the edges of the set. It put some meat in the center.

Joining Earle on some songs was his wife, Allison Moorer. I think it wasn’t a coincidence that he played Sparkle and Shine before he introduced her for their duet, Days Aren’t Long Enough.

The night was a wonderful way to get back to basics and take in a wonderful representation of Earle’s discography. There is something wonderful about seeing music in its pure form and this night was no exception.