Steve Earle played Kelvingrove Park Bandstand, Glasgow on Thursday 7 August 2014 – Mike Ritchie was there in the sunshine.
The full-blooded hymn that is Jerusalem has been played plenty in recent weeks in Glasgow when English athletes picked up gold medals for Commonwealth Games’ successes – and many a spectator enjoyed the stirring tune.
Steve Earle’s glorious track of the same name from the 2002 “Jerusalem” release, which rails against hopelessness and lack of solutions both personal and international, brought this excellent open air gig to a close. It is way beyond stirring: it is emotional and thought-provoking, driven and potent. And Earle tackled it again in a way at this superb gig that was as fresh as the day he wrote it. Indeed, there was no single track delivered that failed to please, even though we’ve heard the man many times before.
This park gig in the west end of the city at a £2 million revamped bandstand suited Earle and he was clearly feeling at home in “weirdly sunny” Glasgow as he surveyed the 2,000 fans in this tree-fringed amphitheatre in the Dear Green Place. Walking to the gig along the riverbank – past a fox going about its business, ducks making a racket, a late evening picnic and a young boy learning to ride a bike – was an unusual but pleasing experience. Being in Earle’s company for an hour and 45 minutes at the end of our stroll was even more pleasing as his perfect set list swept us along.
Fearless Heart (brilliant on this outing), My Old Friend The Blues, Taneytown, Someday, Feel Aright, I Ain’t Ever Staisfied, Goodbye, The Devil’s Right Hand, Copperhead Road, Galway Girl – don’t you just wish you’d been there?
All punched out with rugged charm, vigour and poise as the sun began to set. Earle the musical craftsman, sharing his inimitable treasure trove songs of almost three decades with an audience who knew the words and joined in when the leader in the bandstand demanded, and often without invitation. Some even danced in front of the stage.
Steve knows full well how to rock but it’s worth remembering he knows how to do mellow as well. Humility and candour are never far from the surface, either, cue a blistering, “Cocaine Cannot Kill My Pain.”
He’s faced down his demons, overcoming broken romances, for example, through his “chick songs.” He is still recovering and I reckon that’s why we stick by him. But that’s no chore. His unerring knack of producing timeless songs allied to his unwavering ability and willingness to perform live are key to his popularity. He’s promising a new “blues” album and a return band tour next year by which time he’ll have turned 60.