21 April 2016 Live Reviews
Review Date: January 19, 2016
Reviewed By: Carl Warren
Location: Concorde 2 Brighton
Riding high on the back of his latest album, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit cruised along Brighton’s brisk seafront into the arms of tonight’s packed out, expectant audience. Isbell possesses a poet’s gift for a beautifully crafted turn of phrase. The latest album, SOMETHING MORE THAN FREE, is something of a masterpiece reaching the top of Billboard’s Country Album Chart.
Tonight’s set consists mostly of songs from the current album and SOUTHEASTERN, Isbell’s critically acclaimed previous, fourth album. The expectant and rapturous audience is treated to a feast of both the powerful and the poignant. You can feel the truth pour out of these songs, interspersed with stories of the road and of family affairs… There’s one thing that’s really clear to me, no one dies with dignity. Highpoints include the Grammy nominated 24 Frames, Elephant and the title track of the new album, an ode to his beloved father. According to Isbell, Having no money, the song was the only gift he could give on Fathers Day. Far from being over sentimental, the song makes perfect sense. Listening to these songs is somehow like listening to ourselves.
The live show is a completely different experience to the recorded work ranging from peeled back country licks sometimes reminiscent of early Gram Parsons inspired Stones to spaced out blues. However, this is a master at work who must rank along side the greats, Dylan, Young and Springsteen.
Expectation exceeded, the crowd of both young and old filed out into the cold night air aware of the privilege that the past two hours had provided.