Live Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes, The Mastersons

21 March 2016 | 9:48 am | Luke Saunders

"Earle pulls out his miniature eight-string electric guitar for classics like Copperhead Road and Guitar Town."

Talented husband and wife duo The Mastersons warmed up an eager crowd. Playing mostly content from their latest album Good Luck Charm we couldn't help but tip our hats to the sweet and melodic country voice of Eleanor Whitmore. It's only their second album and was written entirely on the road with Steve Earle, but the duo are well on their way.

A delta blues recording hushed the crowd and the lights dimmed. All slide and soulful singing, Steve Earle & The Dukes walked out to meet a warm welcome from dedicated fans. With literally hundreds of songs in his arsenal, Earle wastes no time in kicking off the country/blues blend he is known for. Earle began by playing through material from his predominantly blues album Terraplane, which pays homage to the likes of Robert Johnson and Lightin' Hopkins, and was conceptually inspired the last time he was in Australia.  

Songs like You're The Best Lover That I Ever Had and Baby Baby Baby (Baby) achieve a lovely bluesy swing while still staying true to Earle's country roots. The five-piece ensemble is a mash-up of The Mastersons (Whitmore and Chris Masterson) plus The Dukes: Brad Pemberton on drums, Kelly Looney on bass and, of course, multi-instrumentalist Earle. Earles' most swoon-worthy moments came in the confluence of acoustic strumming with Whitmore's heartfelt harmonies on the fiddle, creating a country sound that only Earle could so masterfully create.   

As the songs rolled on through to the second half of the set, more hoots and "yee-haw"s floated out from the enthusiastic crowd and Earle took on an undeniably more country feel. With guitar changes almost every song, Earle pulls out his miniature eight-string electric guitar for classics like Copperhead Road and Guitar Town, transporting us back to Nashville where his career first took off. Additionally The Devil's Right Hand is a moving anti-gun cry for which Earle is a lead figure in the US. Lyrics like, "Caught a miner cheating/I shot the dog down… watched the man fall... Not guilty, I said/You've got the wrong man/Nothing touched the trigger but the devil’s right hand," contain vivid imagery and you can't help but feel like Earle may be singing from experience.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

After an epic two-hour set, Earle decides to go off the books and close with a classic, Hey Joe. His raspy voice and Chris Masterson's sweeping guitar solos no doubt do the song a favour, while Whitmore's fiddle and back-up singing put the song in a new light. The crowd were roaring as the lights dimmed and Earl and co left the stage.