Having seen Jason Isbell (with and without the 400 Unit) three times over the past few years, I finally got the chance to see Drive-By Truckers at the Button Factory in Dublin on Saturday night. They’re over here for a UK & Irish tour, and Saturday’s gig was only the second time the band had played Dublin in their fifteen year career. And boy what a gig it was.
Support act Josh T Pearson came to the stage late and when he announced the reason, none of the capacity crowd felt disgruntled. Despite the death of his father, the folk troubadour performed two songs: ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ’ from the critically acclaimed Last of the Country Gentlemen, which was infinitely more emotional than on record and a DBT-backed cover of Merle Haggard’s ‘Silver Wings’. His set was less than twenty-minutes in length, but given the circumstances, it’s amazing he performed at all.
Starting off with ‘I Do Believe’ from their ninth and newest album, the six piece performed a blistering set of twenty five songs from their entire career, lasting over two hours. Drive-By Truckers are famed for their “three axe attack” and their rock sensibilities shone throughout, starting with the opening salvo of ‘I Do Believe’ and ‘Three Dimes Down’. They never let up for a second from there, providing the sweltering venue with one of the best gigs of the year.
Lead vocalist and songwriter Patterson Hood sounded fantastic on older material, especially during the wonderful narrative of ‘Goode’s Field Road’ and newer songs like last year’s standout ‘Drag the Lake, Charlie’ and Eddie Hinton cover ‘Everybody Needs Love’. However, the night belonged to Mike Cooley, whose gruff vocal has long been my favourite part of the Truckers canon. He was superb on ‘Get Downtown’, and ‘Zip City’ but the hilarious ‘Birthday Boy’ was a real triumph.
The only gripe of the entire evening would be the lack of Shonna Tucker-led songs, with only one of her songs making an appearance. That one song ‘Dancin Ricky’ was gorgeous though, and you can check out my video of it (apologies for the poor video quality, my camera isn’t one of those shiny expensive ones, that said, the audio on it is great, you can even hear an excited fan holler “Ricky Boy” as the song begins).
The audience at the Button Factory were also excellent, despite the relentless heat (which is extremely evident in photos of Patterson Hood), singing along to most of the songs – particularly fan favourites such as ‘Zip City’, ‘Hell No, I Ain’t Happy’ and Warren Zevon’s ‘Play It All Night Long’.
All in all, it was a fantastic gig, and the next time the Truckers come to town, I implore you to see them. Gig of the year so far? Definitely, and it’s hard to see what will top it.
Watch ‘Dancin’ Ricky’:
‘Let There Be Rock’: