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Live Review: Justin Townes Earle, The Little Lord Street Band

9 September 2019 | 1:47 pm | Tom O'Donovan

"A bucket list musician every person should experience live."

Justin Townes Earle @ Mojo's Bar. Photos by Adrian Thomson.

Justin Townes Earle @ Mojo's Bar. Photos by Adrian Thomson.

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The small Mojo's stage was filled by Perth mainstays The Little Lord Street Band, who churned out a set of alt-country tunes to kick off the night. Arriving on stage unaccompanied, Justin Townes Earle launched straight into the ripping Flint City Shake It, from his 2019 record The Saint Of Lost Causes. The lonely lyrics of One More Night In Brooklyn – Townes Earle’s candid anti-ode to the New York City borough – and the eerie Frightened By The Sound soon followed.

The edgy flavour of Hard Livin’ harked back to his younger years where Earle lived a rather fast and ‘indulgent’ life, which he described sincerely and rather entertainingly between songs. Then the touching reality of the emotive Mama’s Eyes summed up the musician’s relationship with his mother, in contrast to the tenuous one with his father, country-rock icon Steve Earle.

Earle is a master of the Travis picking technique, executed as if he were playing two guitars simultaneously. He showed off his skill through the mind-blowing rawness of They Killed John Henry, an epic, axe-galloping number from his second studio album, Midnight At The Movies. At one moment, the rangy Tennessean winced and yelled expletives about the callouses on his strumming fingers.

A superb cover of Malcolm Holcombe’s haunting country staple Who Carried You provided additional spark, before early career favourite Lone Pine Hill and the heavenly honky-tonk of Harlem River Blues, from his 2010 album of the same name, closed out an absorbing main set. He returned for a short but fulfilling encore featuring The Carter Family’s Gold Watch And Chain, chased by his brilliant take on The Replacements’ Can’t Hardly Wait

In the infancy of his music career Townes Earle was often referred to as "Steve Earle’s son". With such a well-oiled, passionate and brutally honest live show to complement his fine catalogue, this masterful musician now deserves his own spot atop the podium.

Not many musicians can hold an audience captive for 90 minutes, but tonight Earle did just that, and, boy, was he on song. A bucket list musician every person should experience live.