An evening with Justin Townes Earle

First off, I would like to give a mention to the support, Andrew Combs. Also a guitar playing Nashville resident, Combs was the perfect ice breaker for the main act and he left me extremely intrigued to see what Justin Townes Earle had to offer. I went to Union Chapel with no expectations, having checked out Earles’ music only earlier that day and was pleasantly surprised and well, certainly warmed up after Combs finished his incredible set. His stage presence was superb too, and he made lots of rock n’ roll comments like “I’m drinkin’ whiskey from a coffee mug… in Church”, which entertained the crowd some.

[Published in Latitude Lookout magazine in 2016]

I had high expectations after Combs’ set, and was disappointed at how Justin’s started off. It was extremely rough around the edges, filled with minor guitar hiccups and the occasional wrong note, which left me initially unimpressed with his efforts. However, after I’d heard a few songs and Paul Newhouse (his support guitarist) moved over to the pedal steel, I really started to understand Earles’ approach on things. My entire attitude on the show changed; it was just awesome.

The entire set from there on in was thoroughly enjoyable and Earle’s took us on a journey of self discovery, inviting the audience into his dark drug filled past and talking of the struggles he encountered, moving swiftly on to speak of his clearly well deserved present married life. He spoke of the importance of family, and chatted with us about how perception isn’t everything, speaking of Billy Holiday and The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowen’s genius behind the drugs.

‘One More Night In Brooklyn’ was by far my favourite song of the set. It was so excellently patient and passionate at the same time, filled with warm, subtle guitar solos and a steady melody that directed the song throughout.

It a simple nutshell, Earle’s became your best friend for the evening, and this thought was clearly true of his extremely loyal fan base. I found Justin to be a storyteller in purist form, with traditional roots that made for the perfect setting of a front porch in late July. I loved it, and won’t hesitate to see him again should he return.