ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 27, 1987
By Steve Newton
Whenever Steve Earle hits town, you’re pretty well guaranteed a hellraisin’ good time. It happened at his Vancouver debut last May at the 86 Street Music Hall, and then again last Thursday (November 19) when he and his rip-snortin’ band the Dukes returned to the Expo club. This time around Steve ‘n the boys packed a thousand people into the place, and very few left without a joyful dose of down-home country-rock coursing through their veins.
When Earle played here in May, it was just after the release of his second album, Exit O, the follow-up to Guitar Town. Back then not many were familiar enough with the LP to really get into tunes like “Angry Young Man”, “The Rain Came Down”, and “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied”.
Not so last Thursday. The latter tune–one of the most hummable songs of ’87–created nearly the same level of excitement as U2’s “New Year’s Day” had done at the dome a week prior. Pedal steel player Bucky Baxter stole the show instrumentally, his heart-breaking licks putting a fire to earlier tunes like “My Old Friend the Blues” and “Fearless Heart”.
Earle himself looked about the same as he did six months ago–except that his hair had grown longer, and he now uses a headband to keep it under control. He can still rock like crazy, as he did on his first hit, “Guitar Town”. He also raised quite a ruckus with a version of the Stones’ “Dead Flowers”.
And when it was all over, and people were sidling out into the night, he came out and sat at a table by the stage to sign autographs. He did that last time too; next time he comes I’m bringing a pen for sure.