Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Live Shows: Drive-By Truckers, Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA 2/22/20

Photo by Ken Sears
Despite Drive-By Truckers being one of my all time favorite bands, it's been roughly six years since I've been able to see them live. Weather issues have derailed the last two times I was supposed to see them, but luckily last Saturday was devoid of any weather issues, so I was finally able to see them again.

The show started off a little... off. For the first four songs ("Made Up English Oceans," "Rosemary With a Bible and a Gun," "Slow Ride Argument," and "Heroin Again") the band seemed tense. Maybe it's because three of those songs are off Drive-By Truckers's latest album and haven't been played live much yet, or maybe it's that they're just dark, slow songs, but they just didn't seem like themselves. It's a little odd, since those appear to be the opening songs on every show of the tour so far. The band seemed to start getting their groove back on the Mike Cooley sung "3 Dimes Down" and immediately got into full form on the next song, Patterson Hood's "Sink Hole."

From there the show was on full blast. Drive-By Truckers played their alt-country at full volume to the delight of a faithful audience. They sprinkled seven out of the nine songs from this year's The Unraveling (including "Thoughts and Prayers" which includes a verse about a flat earther crashing to Earth in a rocket, played just hours after a flat earther actually crashed a rocket to Earth and died) but kept it a fan favorite heavy set. They went back to 1999's Pizza Deliverance for the country heavy "Tales Facing Up," and played a total of seven songs off their 2001 concept album classic Southern Rock Opera, including the album opener "Days of Graduation," which I never thought I'd see them do live since it's not a song as much as an album introduction. 

At this point in their career, they're pretty open to changing songs up a bit. "Goode's Field Road" was reworked as a Clash style dub, and "Uncle Frank" always seems to be evolving every time you hear it. This experimentation could be why Drive-By Truckers seem to have more fun than any live band out there today. Matt Patton, the "new guy" of the band despite being a member for at least six years, still looks like he's playing his first gig with the band and can't believe his luck at every single show.

The end of the show Saturday night might have been the most epic finale of any show I've ever been to, including stadium and arena shows by heavyweights like Paul McCartney and Motley Crue. Starting with "Let There Be Rock," I expected Drive-By Truckers to end the show, or at least take a break for an encore, since it sounded like such a huge and perfect place to end the show. But, no, they started playing "Zip City." And then "Armageddon's Back in Town." They played six songs that could have perfectly ended the night, but didn't stop until the two-headed beast that is "Shut Up and Get On the Plane" and "Angels and Fuselage." Then, after nearly two and a half hours, Drive-By Truckers ended their set. No encore, but who really needed one after that monster of a show?

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