Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA
May 21, 2005 with support: Tom Russell & Andrew Hardin
I decided that it was time for my offspring (ages 16, 19, and 21) to accompany me to a John Prine concert. We entered the Paramount Theatre that evening with great anticipation. Tom Russell and Andrew Hardin were the opening act. Wow, can Andrew Hardin play the guitar!!! Very impressive. After a break, the lights went down, and John walked out on stage with a big grin. My kids screamed "THAT'S John??". Evidently he does not look like they imagined. He began, of course, with Spanish Pipedream. His voice was in great shape! I had heard him last fall at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, and he was very hoarse at the time. But not tonight! High points of the concert: 1. "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore", which he brought out of retirement because the president was "asking for it". Great song, great performance, and the crowd went wild. 2. "Souvenirs", which is even more sad now because, in addition to making us all think of Steve Goodman, John also said that this was his mother's favorite song, and I think his mother passed away a year or so ago. 3. "Sam Stone", which was so hauntingly beautiful and sad it brought tears to my eyes. 4. "Other Side of Town", a song from his new album, evidently inspired by the sort of dreamy feeling one gets from pain killers after surgery. 5. "Paradise", done for the final encore, with Tom Russell and Andrew Hardin. Again, Andrew Hardin showed off his amazing guitar skills. Actually, the whole concert was a high point. John seems to genuinely enjoy the whole process of playing his music for his fans. After the concert, we waited at the stage door, and when John came out, he was very gracious and friendly and and truly seemed interested in meeting the fans who had patiently waited for him. He signed a few autographs and even posed for some photos. He is truly a class act.
By Patrick MacDonald - Seattle Times music critic - Concert preview
Once again the thrill of seeing and hearing a concert by John Prine was about to be realized. I knew we were in the right place when Jason Wilber's King for a Day was playing on the sound system.
Observing the arriving crowd I was thrilled to see that John seems to be reaching a younger generation as well as continuing to speak to the aging Boomers.
In many ways the timeline between "Far from me " to "She is my everything " is one that has been shared by the writer and the listeners and has gone by far too quickly.
My wife and I have seen Tom Russell in concert a few times and I was interested to see how he would handle the opener spot. He certainly did well and gave the audience a taste of his talent and that of his his sidekick, the amazing Andrew Hardin. He did a couple of unreleased numbers, including " Stealing Electricity ", two songs from " Hotwalker" including "Woodrow" a song dealing with the betrayal of Woody Guthrie. My favorite Russell song is " Blue Wing ". Fortunately he performed that song as well and references to Walla Walla, Wenatchee and the run down trailer park on the south side of Seattle were well received. The closer was the shit kicker "Out in California " followed by the encore of "Gallo de Ciella", personally I've heard that damned song about the fighting rooster too many times, but there you have it.
After the intermission John strode on stage along with Jason and Dave. His shit eating grin was already in place as if to say ok folks hang on to your seats cause here it comes. Spanish Pipedreams kicked it off in the standard raucous fashion followed by Flag Decal. The reaction to this anti-war ditty told me that most people wished it were not relevant again. A number of old favorites followed, including " Souvenirs ", " Fish and Whistle", "Angel from Montgomery" and " All the Best ".
From the new disk he performed " Glory of True Love ", Crazy as a Loon"," Long Monday ", "Taking a Walk ", " Bear Creek Blues ". The Other side of Town in John's word needed to be balanced for the sake of his marriage by "She is my everything ". I suspect most men in the audience knew why.
I was pleased to see that many of the new songs were already familiar to the audience. With that in mind I was anticipating the reaction to "Humans". During the intermission we had met the Worlds Champion Lumberjack Pole Climbing Champion of 19??. My suspicions were confirmed when during the song his wife leaned over to mine to say that some humans sitting beside you aint human. I do not think he was amused, nor did he applaud at the appropriate moment or songs end.
Throughout the show we were again introduced to some of John's tragic figures. The lonely Donald and Lydia and Donald's actions at midnight in the bunkhouse latrine need not be explained. The tragic demise of Sam Stone is still a haunting ballad no matter how many times we've heard the song. The reality of the old folks in " Hello in there " is awaiting many of us in the not too distant future. As usual Lake Marie wound up the main concert. I was pleasantly surprised when "Sweet Revenge" was the first of the encores. I had not heard it live in too many years and John, Jason, and David did it justice with a truly rocking version.
Tom Russell and John traded verses on Paradise and truly electrifying notes were added by Andrew Hardin to make this one of the premier version experienced live.
An evening with John Prine is like spending time with an old friend, albeit a talented one. He was and still is able put into words many of the feelings and experiences of the common man. His connection to his audience remains strong even after all of these years. May it always be so.
I can hardly wait until early August when he plays in my hometown, Vancouver.
full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/musicnightlife/2002281307_prine20.html?syndication=rss
John Prine, Tom Russell, 8 p.m. tomorrow, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $32.50-$47.50 (206-628-0888, www.ticketmaster.com; information, 206-467-5510, www.theparamount.com, www.ohboy.com).
Friday, May 20, 2005 - Concert Preview
John Prine: fatherhood, good health, new music
Fans of John Prine had a scare a couple of years ago, when the great singer-songwriter got throat cancer. But Prine, known for "Hello in There," "Illegal Smile," "Sam Stone," "Angel From Montgomery," "Christmas In Prison" and many more, beat the illness. He came out of it smiling, thanks to his family, and recorded yet another upbeat album of finely-crafted, moving and funny songs, "Fair and Square." He'll sing many of them at his show here tomorrow at the Paramount, along with his classics. We caught up with him through his publicist.
Where are you today? I'm at home in Nashville. My wife went over to Ireland, so I'm soccer mom this week. She's from there and went over to see her sister and her mom. We spend every summer there, from the time the kids get out of school. We have a little cottage in Galway. But, thankfully, I'm so busy I can't take the summer off. I'll be touring.
You have a new album out, "Fair and Square." Why'd it take so long? Until I started doing these interviews, I didn't really realize it was nine years. When I was out touring for "Lost Dogs" (the previous album), that's when I became a father. I've got a 10-year-old and a 9-year-old that're 10 months apart. That has something to do with the nine years. I just got busy with 'em. I had to make appointments with myself in order to go write, and I have to keep appointments in the studio, otherwise I'd get nothin' done. It's great that I could be home as much as I was. It couldn't have happened at a better time in my life.
You had health problems, too. Not too long after the boys came along. I think they were 2 and 3 when I got the cancer. I had to take about a year and a half off for the treatments and the surgery. It took a while to get my energy back. I can't tell you how much I enjoy being out on the road ever since all that. It made everything new for me.
You're in the same league as Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor - all of our great singer-songwriters - but you're not a household name. I don't have to have the baggage [laughs]. I mean, I can go on tour and the people know all my songs and they treat me really great. Then I can just go down the street to the grocery store and there ain't a soul in there who knows who I am. So I got the best of both worlds.
Did fatherhood and your illness affect the songwriting on the new album? I'm not totally sure that has completely sunk in. It takes awhile, even if it's a relationship that I'm in, before it filters down to my songwriting. You live with it for a while. The kids have affected the way I go about doing things, and somewhere down the line it will filter through to everything and come out in the writing. The selection of songs on "Fair and Square" are, to me, homey songs. Some of 'em are sentimental. Maybe the family in me is coming out. I do know it's great to be livin' this way. It makes more sense to me than partying all the time. It's just great to wake up in the morning and have the family that I got around me.