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Earle and Pug put their passion on display

March 1, 2010

Justin Townes Earle and Joe Pug
Lincoln Hall
Chicago, Ill.
February 27, 2010

Passion is a funny thing; it’s invisible and indescribable, but when it’s abundant it’s completely apparent and it is beautiful. Saturday evening at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, beauty radiated from the stage to the crowd and right back the other way around.

Justin Townes Earle has a special kind of talent, and he is not shy when it comes to sharing it. From the second he stepped from behind the curtain to the stage Earle connected with the crowd, letting out a yell in his southern drawl enticing the crowd to holler right back. Gathered around him were his upright bass player Bryn Davies and fiddle player Josh Hedley, making up the most racuous, good-time string band I had ever heard.

Earle and his band immediately launched into their set and immediately their passion was returned by the die-hard fans looking up at them. Even in the small concert hall the voice of audience was audible above the PA. As Earle made his way through his songbook the audience stayed with him, getting louder and engaging him with shouts, to which he would gladly respond with a quip or a kind word.

–More photos after the jump–

His slowed down versions of “Mama’s Eyes” and “Midnight at the Movies” from his 2009 release captivated the audience, each member holding their breath as he held the notes longer than the recorded version. His southern drawl emphasizing his words so poignantly. Yet, Earle knew when to step it up and get the crowd moving, and he did it with gusto.

As apparent as his rapport with the crowd was, this night belonged to Joe Pug. With family in from out of state and a cheering section as loud as fire codes would permit Pug bellowed out a cheer at least twice as loud as Earle to let his homebase know that he was ready to have a good time.

His neck craned into the microphone to sing those first words from “Nation of Heat,” and you could see the muscles tensing: Pug was belting out each note with every muscle in his body, making sure that this crowd got the best from him. The crowd did not let his effort go unnoticed, and even more than for Earle they let him know they were there. They returned that unbridled passion will lyrics and yells, cheering Pug on and giving him plenty to talk about while tuning.

Pug did the first half of his set by himself, alone with his guitar, before he called his band on stage. If Pug was the reason people came, his band was the door prize. Guitar and pedal steel player Andrew Harrison was the right hand man to Pug, belting out the sweetest licks to highlight the rest of the music.

When the full band kicked in there was an immediacy to the music that made it meal that much more real and endearing. I suppose a part of me heard Ryan Adams & the Cardinals in Pug’s music and it pulled on my heart strings, but that familiarity is in no way a bad thing.

As Pug plowed through his set of songs both new and old the crowd sang along even louder than for Earle. It was really something to see this group of people giving their hometown boy such a grand reception, and it made the evening that much more special. After a few with his band he played solo once again, ending with crowd favorite “Hymn 101.”

Pug said goodbye to a grand ovation, and didn’t stay off stage long before coming back out to play “In the Meantime” before wrapping up with a cover song with the full band and Hedley from Earle’s band. As Pug left the stage for the final time he lowered his guitar and told the crowd he was “living the dream,” and no one could disagree. It was a fun, fitting end to a great night of music.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. src permalink
    March 2, 2010 6:50 pm

    I remembered your site! Nice blog – it was indeed a lovely show.

    • Chris Davies permalink*
      March 2, 2010 7:37 pm

      Thanks for reading, hope you visit the site again!

  2. Courtney permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:09 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it….maybe I’ll see them next time.

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