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Live review

Drive By Truckers 

Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

added: 15 May 2011 // gig date: 5 May 2011
reviewer: Paul Chapinal

Drive By Truckers - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London - Printable version
The Drive By Truckers are back in town tonight and there’s a palpable air of expectation. They’re going through a purple patch at the moment with two strong albums in as many years, plus well received live shows. But first…

It has to be said that Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards were a very poor start to the evening. Their very laid back take on the great American songbook was so dull that people were fitting nooses around their necks. It didn’t help that the lead vocalist sounded like a cross between Andrew Eldritch and Lee Marvin circa Paint Your Wagon.

Drive By Truckers have been around a few years and the set and audience reflected this: Songs from throughout their career and lots of silver and thinning pates in the audience, though it’s encouraging for the band’s longevity that there were a fair few who don't have to worry about their hair, just yet. No big entrance from the band, they just ambled on and kicked of with I do Believe from Go Go Boots and from then they pretty much had the crowd in their hands. They just locked into their southern boogie groove and pretty much kept to that all night. While the main focus is, of course, on the two sometimes three lead guitars (and it was something special when they all interplayed), the rhythm section were no slouches. Not forgetting the keyboards, at the back of the stage they may have been, but never missing from the mix.

The lyrics and vocals were generally unintelligible, and over the long set there were dips, though few and far between. High points, well, Used to be a Cop was a marked change in tone, When the Pin Hits the Shell was very moving as was Where’s Eddie with Shonna Tucker taking on lead vocal. Though not a truly heavy band, they have their moments with Play It All Night Long and flattened the place with Lookout Mountain that ended the main set.

There was a bit of a gap before the band came back – nearly losing the audience - but a generous four song encore including a haunting Go Go Boots, a zippy Zip City and a bruising Buttholeville, and that really was it. Come back soon.

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4 stars

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