Jason Isbell w/ Langhorne Slim @ The Earl, Atlanta [Concert Review]

by oz on November 1, 2010

Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit need to be witnessed in the South. I had seen Isbell with and without the 400 Unit in San Francisco before relocating, but the crowd wasn’t quite right and Isbell’s performance felt less genuine.  That was not the case last Friday night at The Earl in Atlanta. The ex-Drive-By Trucker from Muscle Shoals, Alabama took the stage to a packed house of Southerners hellbent on singing every line of every song.

The night also included Langhorne Slim, Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher, and Mimicking Birds as part of the Paste Magazine Tour. I attended with a college buddy and a few new friends, which included some boys from Tuscaloosa and two Barbecue bloggers. That’s right. They review Barbecue. Like much of the crowd, none were familiar with Langhorne Slim which was shocking to me. I’ve seen Slim at Lollapalooza and The Fox Theater in Atlanta, so I was surprised that he was opening for Isbell. I prefer to call it a co-headline. We missed the first two acts to enjoy some Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, but walked in as Langhorne took the stage.

Langhorne Slim is a performer and every night he earns it. He’s like a gospel preacher on stage. You’ll find him standing on amps, then dropping down to his knees, then bouncing up to toss off his fedora. Shit, at one point he was in the crowd singing with his arms around fans. Even with his dramatic stage presence, Malachi Delorenzo (drums) and David Moore (keys, banjo) damn near stole the show. I continued to hear comments around me like “More banjo!” or “Holy shit, are you watching that drummer?” It was an incredible set that ended too quickly. It’s safe to say that Langhorne Slim found many new fans in Atlanta.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit (plus a bottle of Jack Daniels) took the stage next. If I didn’t know better, I’d be ecstatic to catch Isbell on the last night of a tour with a big bottle of liquor. Unfortunately, I saw him at Slims in San Francisco when he walked off stage with a sore throat after four songs. I was sitting with a bitter taste in my mouth until he opened with “Decoration Day,” one of my favorite DBT songs. That’s all it really took to get us back in good graces.

The rest of the set was surprisingly dominated by DBT material, including Outfit, Goddamn Lonely Love (video), and Never Gonna Change (video), which included a cover of Hendrix’s Stone Free. It works because Isbell is an amazing guitarist. Isbell and 400 then played some of their original material including two of my favs, Dress Blues (video) and In A Razor Town (video).  They also gave us a taste of two new tracks from their upcoming album, one I captured on video here, and the other seemed to be titled “Alabama Pines.” It was fantastic and had the crowd buzzing between songs.

The night ended with a crowd pleasing rendition of Otis Redding’s (Sittin On) The Dock of The Bay and, much like Langhorne’s set, the only downside of the performance was its brevity. The show ended at midnight with no encore and the crowd, just getting warmed up, just sort of stood there staring at one another for a few minutes. I had a long drive to the burbs, so it suited me just fine. I’m now anxiously awaiting Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit’s next album. My early read is that it’ll be more gritty than the first two albums and will appeal more to the DBT-Isbell devotees.

Langhorne Slim at The Earl

Jason Isbell – Dress Blues

Langhorne Slim – I Love You, But Goodbye

Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher – In The Summertime

The Mimicking Birds – The Loop

Video: Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – (Sittin On) The Dock Of The Bay (Live at The Earl in Atlanta, 10/28/2010)

Video: Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – In a Razor Town (Live at The Earl in Atlanta, 10/28/2010)

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