Welcome to the Rock Show

“Welcome to the rock show, we are The Drive By Truckers” was the greeting that Patterson Hood gave the crowd last week at Toad’s Place in  New Haven.  I ventured out for a Tuesday night show last week with my eldest nephew John. It was well worth the tired Wednesday at work the following day. The winter has been fairly sparse for shows and I was itching to catch a good one. The Truckers have been one of my favorites the last few years. To steal a line from a profile I read about them, “if Public Enemy was CNN for Black Folks, Drive By Truckers is CNN on the Southern Experience”.  The Truckers write brilliant songs about the South, the lifestyle, people, past and present experiences, changes to the South, etc.  I have been fortunate enough to see them several times over the last few years between festivals and headlining gigs. This would be however my first time seeing them since the departure of Jason Isbell. Truckers shows tend to be marathon experiences with loud guitars, sweaty, enthusiastic and visceral.

I wouldn’t put the Toad’s Place show at the top of list of shows I have seen by them but it was as usual an excellent one. The loss of Isbell is unfortunate one for the band but it looks like the band and Jason’s solo career will both prosper!  The band played close to 2.5 hours and played 26 songs. I have a link at the bottom to the set list.  They played about 10 songs off their new disc, Brighter than Creation’s Dark. Its a good album, a little mellower in spots than previous albums though.

A rock show is a great way to describe the show. Patterson Hood is the consummate front man. He plays and sings with abandon and loves the spotlight. He plays to the crowd and is the between song storyteller in the band.  Mike Cooley plays guitar and sings as well. I love the distinctive Southern twang in his voice. Shonna Tucker is a monster on the bass and leads the band in swigs from the ever present handle of Jack Daniels on the stage.  Brad Morgan mixes power and touch on the drum kit and keeps the band from flying off the tracks.  The highlight off the new album is Shonna Tucker gets to sing two songs and they performed both of them at Toad’s great additions to the large repertoire of the Truckers.

The big moment of the show was a long story by Patterson before the encore song “Let there Be Rock”. He told the story of his Dad calling him the day before for his birthday. His dad was a session bass player at Muscle Shoals, AL where Atlantic cut most of their classic records from the 60’s and 70’s. He told the tale of his Dad always being a session man until he got a chance to tour with “a band called Traffic” and his Dad told him their very first gig was in New Haven.  It was very touching to hear Patterson speak so fondly of his Dad, then him and the band ripped into one of the best songs in their catalog.

Great night of rock, hope the Truckers can keep it going for years and years!



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