As we pulled up outside The Clarendon, the sleet was falling and all I could think was thank God I brought my big black jacket! Let’s face it, Katoomba = COLD! There’s no denying that fact!
Justin Townes Earle is no show pony, he’s a work horse… having played over 250 shows in the last 12 months is confirmation of that! His guitar playing is phenomenal and I’m not just throwing the word out there willy nilly… I mean PHENOMENAL! It sounds like there are 5 guitars up there at times. He is the consummate professional performer and one hell of an entertainer!
Wagons kicked off the evening’s entertainment with a grin and a snarl! Henry and the lads were in outstanding form! Starting out with the glorious “Never Been To Spain” they moved through their set with good humour and frenetic energy. They played all the favourites, the new album copped a flogging with “Drive All Night Till Dawn, Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister” and the title track off the new opus “Goodtown”. By the end of their set Wagons had assuredly collected a fresh batch of fans and friends.
When Justin Townes Earle strolled onto the stage armed with a swagger, a smile and his guitar, he was welcomed like a long lost friend. He started his set with “They Killed John Henry” leaving the audience gasping in awe. Many of the folk that were in attendance saw JTE last year when he toured Australia and they returned for a very good reason, but those who missed out last year, were gobsmacked by his talent as a performer and songwriter. JTE makes it all look so effortless, nothing seems a stretch for him as he weaves his way through his set. From “Ain’t Glad I’m Leavin” and “I Don’t Know”, to “Someday I’ll Be Forgiven For This” and “Mama’s Eyes”, Justin had the audience in the palm of his hand for his entire performance. JTE covered all of the bases, serving up a few covers from Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins “My Starter Won’t Start”, The Carter Family “I’m Leaving You This Lonesome Song” and Mance Lipscomb “Walkin Blues” as well as a sneak peek of some new songs from his next album “Christchurch Woman”, “Learnin To Cry” and “Waitin On Nothin” (who else is champing at the bit for that release?).
The set proper concluded with “Walk Out”, as soon as JTE bid goodnight to the appreciative throng, he was being begged to return to the stage for the mandatory encore, ever the gentleman, he returned the love with a request from the front table “Turn Out The Lights” a song he confided, he hadn’t played in a year, but was flawless in execution and his stunning rendition of The Replacements classic “Can’t Hardly Wait”.
This was an amazing gig, all of the elements were there, humour, humility, prodigious talent and above all the SONGS! At shows end, JTE signed CDs, Posters, a Guitar, chatted and posed for pictures for what seemed an eternity, he is the artist that keeps on giving and giving and giving!
Justin Townes Earle is a genuine talent, the real deal and one of the most important artists in Roots Music today!