Words by: Richard Simms | Images by: Morgan Harris
Drive-By Truckers :: 03.28.08 :: The National :: Richmond, VA
LET THERE BE ROCK!!!
It's hard to imagine a more energetic, soulful and all-out rock show than what the Drive-By Truckers bring each and every night they perform. You'd be hard pressed to find a band that more clearly signifies the pure rock 'n' roll that is often lacking in today's music scene. Although temporarily heartbreaking to many fans, guitar-prodigy Jason Isbell's separation from the band doesn't seem to have slowed them a bit. Rather, it's spun them in a different but equally exciting direction. With bassist Shonna Tucker stepping up to the mic and John Neff's pedal steel genius, Drive-By's release of Brighter Than Creation's Dark has quenched any fan apprehension.
Never one to disappoint, DBT's performance at Richmond's new venue, The National, was a perfect mixture of the new and the old, leaving every true fan exhausted and fully satisfied. Having seen them several times in their flagship town of Athens, GA, I expected the turnout and enthusiasm in Richmond to pale in comparison. I was pleasantly surprised to find a sold out show, full of exactly the kind of drunk, screaming, loyal fans that make DBT shows the most fun out there. The National, an old-time movie theatre recently converted into a concert venue, was the perfect setting for the show and reminded me of the Georgia Theatre in Athens, another favorite venue for the Truckers.
Some buddies and I drove seven and a half hours in early January to see these guys play the Brighter Than Creation's Dark album release shows at the 40 Watt Club in Athens. From the kick-off of the tour to this near tour-ending show in Richmond, it was clear that time on the road really gave the band a chance to grow with the new material and integrate it into their already incredible arsenal. The audience had also given the new record more than a few listens, as many were singing along word-for-word with the new tunes.
Opening with "The Righteous Path," one of the most energetic new songs, the band came out swinging and smiling, obviously excited to be there and ready to rock. Throughout the show, they mixed the old ("One of These Days" off Pizza Deliverance) with the new ones like "Two Daughters and A Beautiful Wife," an instant classic off Creation's Dark. Soulful, honest and aggressive as always, Patterson Hood's presence filled the old theatre to the brim. Sweating, screaming and moving around the stage, Hood gave the fans every penny's worth of their ticket price. Mike Cooley, who as his name suggests is just about the coolest dude on the planet, maintained his mysterious ghost-like persona, smoking cigarettes and hammering out some of the catchiest songs in the DBT repertoire. Compared to her somewhat sheepish stage presence and performance at the album debut in Athens, Shonna Tucker seemed more confident and comfortable with her newfound singer-songwriter role in the band, belting out "I'm Sorry Houston" and "Home Field Advantage." Drummer Brad Morgan backed the band with his always strong, steady beats while Spooner Oldham played keys.
Mike Cooley :: 03.28
In typical DBT fashion, a bottle of whiskey was passed around onstage in the later part of the show. With bars seemingly in every corner of the venue, the fans and the band seemed to be on the same page as things really started to heat up. The set ended strongly with one of their heaviest songs, "Lookout Mountain." From the roar of the crowd, it was clear that an encore was due and that neither the crowd nor the band had any indication of slowing down. The Truckers delivered with an eight song encore, leaving no fan wanting.
Hood gave us an extended version of "18 Wheels of Love," elaborating on the story of Chester the truck diver and his mom. The show raged on with an incredible triple threat finale of "Zip City," "Let There Be Rock" and Jim Carroll's "People Who Died." By the end of the show, emotions were high and the band was clearly overwhelmed with the crowd response. Hood had a huge smile on his face and even looked close to tears as he took his final bow. Cooley and Tucker lingered onstage, shaking hands with the front row, not quite ready to leave the night behind. I managed to push my way forward and as I shook Cooley's hand the only words I could muster were "Cooley, I love you!" So, there it is. Another great show from arguably America's best rock band. As the saying goes, "the secret to a happy ending is knowing when to roll the credits."
SEE YOU AT THE ROCK SHOW!!!
03.28.08 :: The National :: Richmond, VA
The Righteous Path, Shut Up And Get On The Plane, The Man I Shot, One Of These Days, Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife, Daddy Needs A Drink, Three Dimes Down, Putting People On The Moon, Check Out Time In Vegas, You And Your Crystal Meth, Goode's Field Road, I'm Sorry Huston, Self-Destructive Zones, The Company I Keep, Hell No I Ain't Happy, Gravity's Gone, Homefield Advantage, Lookout Mountain
Encore: I'm Your Puppet, A Ghost To Most, Steve McQueen, Marry Me, 18 Wheels Of Love, Zip City, Let There Be Rock, People Who Died
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