Drive-By Truckers | 10.25.06

The democratic sharing of songs between Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell carried the crowd through an amazing, two-hour and ten-minute set with 24 passion-filled songs.

 

Mississippi Nights, St. Louis

The best live band in America just raised some hell in St. Louis. If you missed it, I'm sorry. No worries, though; the Drive-By Truckers are also the hardest working band, and in three months or so they will be back in some form. DBT has made a full circle, first with The Dirty South tour at Mississippi Nights with the Heartless Bastards in April '05, then two shows at the Pageant, a 21-plus benefit show with Patterson Hood last December, a show at UMB Bank Pavilion in support of the Black Crowes this June, and finally, last week, an all-ages, full-band, main-act show in support of A Blessing and a Curse with opener the Drams.

The Drams gave St. Louis a worthwhile set of nine songs in 45 minutes. Fans, heavily in the 25 to 50 age range, packed Mississippi Nights despite the rain that postponed Game 4 of the World Series. The Drams are a hard country-rock band that at times gets laborious in repetitious storytelling, while the DBT are a Southern rock band with a unique angle on the homogeny of rock music. However, the Drams are a much better live band than what is derived from their debut LP Jubilee Dive, and the appreciative crowd even included a handful of singers-a-long.

After corralling the under-21 minority into the to left stage seating area during the 30-minute wait, the lights went down and the Truckers emerged from behind the crowd to take the decorated stage. DBT +1 (pedal steel guitarist Jon Neff) greeted the crowd with, "Shouldn't be playing baseball in October anyway, huh?" and then fired away with Mike Cooley's surprising opener, Decoration Day's "Marry Me." From there, the democratic sharing of songs between Hood, Cooley, and Jason Isbell carried the crowd through an amazing, two-hour and ten-minute set (moderate length for DBT standards) with 24 passion-filled songs.

The set featured six fast-paced songs right off the bat, like Hood's fist-pumping, crowd-inspiring "Sink Hole," before Isbell belted out Dirty South's reflective finale "Goddamn Lonely Love." "Goddamn," a show highlight, couldn't help causing the other band members (even Shonna Tucker) to sing along with the "Stop me if you've heard this one before" verse.

Overall, I was impressed with Isbell in this show. April's A Blessing and a Curse had only glimpses of what fans have come to expect. The album could have done without Isbell's weak pop song "Daylight," and at this show the Truckers refrained from playing the cursed portion of the album. Instead, Isbell played old favorites, a Rolling Stones cover of "Moonlight Mile," and a protest song called "Dress Blues."

The show was fun because the band had fun, passing the Jack Daniels around after every couple of songs. Their loose approach gave light to old songs from Pizza Deliverance and Gangstability. Patterson's "Steve McQueen" was arguably the best live song, with the 21-year "partners in crime" Cooley and Hood restarting the song after an initial mess-up. The song fooled unfamiliar fans, causing them to cheer three times as the song came to a close while DBT jumped right back into a rodeo tune that treated Mississippi Nights to a nice hoedown.

The show's one-hour mark supplied the best moment in the show with "Dead, Drunk, and Naked." The band's songwriting is strongest when they can take a tiresome old story and give the city slickers a fresh perspective on it. Hood sung about his dad with his hands up in the air, "So if you come to see me/I'm sure you'll be impressed/By how well I'm behaving and how well I'm dressed/If you come to see me/hope you're coming soon." We seldom hear something so personal stated so directly in contemporary rock.

The band revved up the crowd by saying that Detroit (the Cardinals' opponents) just gave them an unbelievable response a few nights before, but then clinched it by saying we won the World Series of rock and wished us the best of luck in the baseball championship (and it worked!). The fired-up crowd then cheered on "Lookout Mountain" with Hood dropping to his knees as the first set finished.

A "DBT"chant filled the encore break, and upon return Isbell performed a song on the serious side, a full-band version of the acoustic "Dress Blues." This unreleased track has been swarming Trucker Nation and is a call to "get those boys home" out of "somebody's Hollywood war."

The DBT classic "Let There Be Rock" featured Brent Best of the Drams and offered the most exciting live song of the night. The fifth and final song of the encore, Jim Carroll's "People Who Died," weighed in around 10 minutes. For being a cover, the song suits DBT incredibly well with the simple chorus: "Those are people who died, died/They're all my friends, and they died." This song has become the trademark closer, just as the White Stripes have adopted "Boll Weevil."

Working right up to the 12 o'clock curfew, the band did not disappoint (except for not playing "Zip City"). Everybody got their money's worth, and the staff at Mississippi Nights can say they rarely have seen a more satisfied crowd.

 

Set List:

Marry Me
Ronnie and Neil
Never Gonna Change
Feb. 14
Gravity's Gone
Sink Hike
Goddamn Lonely Love
Do It Yourself
Pin Hits the Shell
The Living Bubba
Moonlight Mile (Rolling Stones)
Steve McQueen
Dead, Drunk, and Naked
Guitar Man Upstairs
The Day John Henry Died
Puttin' People on the Moon
Space City
Hell No I Ain't Happy
Lookout Mountain

Encore:

Dress Blues
Let There Be Rock
Shut Up and Get on the Plane
Buttholeville
People Who Died

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