Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes, The Mastersons

12 March 2016 | 11:12 am | Mark Beresford

"For two hours Steve and his band had the room hanging on every word and every song..."

From the moment the first strum rung out and circled around the Astor Theatre walls with an incredibly crisp ping, the anticipation of a stellar night was amplified instantly.

Opening the evening, The Mastersons took full advantage of the attentive crowd and sharp sound with the duo putting on a upbeat showing worthy of a headline show on it’s own. The warm double acoustics and sweet harmony of Uniform effortlessly met the laid back southern style of Anywhere But Here and showcased the glimmering stage charisma the pair holds. Taking a slight modern touch to the classic husband and wife country show, Chris Masterson’s dynamic alt-country guitar style and Eleanor Whitmore’s rich vocal lines couldn’t have started the night any better.

After multiple solo jaunts to Australia, the name Steve Earle was synonymise with bittersweet acoustic tales and heart wrenching ballads that were a must see event, so to have the man and band in tow is an enticing experience.

Steve Earle & The Dukes marries the concerts we’ve previously seen with the gritty blues fire shows typically reserved for the US in the best way. As the group opened up recent release Baby Baby Baby (Baby), Earle stood forthright in front of the room, arching back over the microphone stand and letting fly with a bellowing harmonica line. It took but an instant to see the bluesman had come to town, and he was ready to make an impact.

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The raw and genuine delivery is still intact; it’s just companioned with the slinky shuffle of The Dukes to convey the devilish glow of The Tennessee Kid, the New Orleans soul of Baby’s Just As Mean As Me or crowd favourite Copperhead Road. Earle remains playful with his performance, joking with the crowd at each opportunity while still maintaining the stark honesty when speaking of his addiction issues or his ability to engage in his heavily sombre emotion for tracks such as like Can't Remember If We Said Goodbye, CCKMP and My Old Friend The Blues.

For two hours Steve and his band had the room hanging on every word and every song in an affair that captured the best of Earles catalogue and shows just how deep his blues roots go.