It is appropriate that Steve Earle's first Melbourne concert in his current tour was performed in the evening of the National Day of Action, where a record number of protesters took to the streets in opposition to the Government's proposed Industrial Relations changes. Steve Earle, no stranger to the left side of politics, has been vehement in his opposition to the American administration's foreign policy and the changes wrought on his country post 9/11. His latest album, The Revolution Starts Now is, like its predecessor Jerusalem, in protest mode, full of scathing, angry songs. Earle has attitude with a capital "A" and this is cogently demonstrated in the two aforementioned records and also in his live shows.

Allison Moorer began the night's entertainment with a half hour set, which demonstrated her wonderful voice and depth of song writing. Though all too brief, her performance was engaging and very impressive. She has a rich deep voice of remarkable power. She started with "Will You Ever Come Down", a song from her latest CD, The Duel, accompanying herself on guitar, following with "Let Go" then the song that launched her career "A Soft Place To Fall" from the Alabama Song CD. The title track of that album was one of the highlights of her performance, which also included a new song on a political theme, which she introduced with a statement on her attitude to the current administration of the USA. It appears she shares her new husband's political views.

Allison's set concluded with the traditional Irish ballad "Carrick Fergus" with Steve Earle joining her on stage to play mandolin accompaniment. She seemed quite overwhelmed by the warm audience reaction to her performance as by all accounts she was unsure of her name being familiar with Australian audiences.

< Allison Moorer - @ The Prince 15/11/05

After quite a long hiatus in proceedings, the piped sound became Gil Scott Heron's hip hop anthem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" as the lights dimmed. Audience expectation grew, then Steve Earle and the Dukes bounded on stage and launched into "The Revolution Starts Now", an undeniably rousing prelude to a night of loud rock n roll. Another song from the latest record, "Home to Houston" followed in quick succession. Allison Moorer emerged for "Conspiracy Theory" providing background vocals to Steve Earle's raspy rendition. She was to add her engaging presence to several more songs during the show -dueting in place of Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams respectively on "Coming Around" and "You're Still Standing There". The honeymooning couple exchanged smouldering glances across the stage and at one stage clinched in a passionate embrace. It was sweet to see how much in love they were with each other.

Typically, Steve Earle was in proselytising mode, commenting on the Day of Action and warning us that Australia was in great danger of becoming just like America is in these present times. How true, the Australia we grew up in is unrecognizable today. The audience cheered and booed appropriately as Steve noted that Australia is the most American of countries outside the USA. This diatribe led into the union inspired song "Harlan Man" - which segued into "Copperhead Road".

< Steve Earle @ The Prince 15/11/05

The tongue in cheek love song to Condoleeza Rice "Condi Condi" sung to a calypso beat, encouraged the audience to sing along in the chorus, something I have not witnessed before at a Steve Earle concert. "I Thought You Should Know" and the title track to Jerusalem which, by Steve's admission was written at the Prince, "Transcendental Blues" "F the FCC" and finally a reprise of "The Revolution Starts Now", segueing into the Beatles song "Revolution", ended the main show.

Enthusiastic applause drew Steve and the Dukes back for an encore. A lively version of "Guitar Town" and Steve proposed an interesting three step plan to cope with a disastrous election result.

Step 1 - Leave the country. This allows you observe the debacle from outside the insane asylum.
Step 2 - Fall in love.
Step 3 - Last but not least, play at least one Rolling Stones cover every fucking show.

Naturally this led into "Sweet Virginia"

<Allison Moorer - Steve Earle
The Prince 15/11/05

Throughout the night, the Dukes - Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Guitar), Kelly Looney (Bass) Will Rigby (Drums) plus Patrick Earle helping out on drums and also playing the giant bin, labelled WMD, during "Conspiracy Theory" - provided excellent support. They are a great band.

With the addition of Allison Moorer to the mix, it was a night to remember and fittingly, considering the unionist day of action, very much in tune with the revolution.

Song List

Revolution Starts Now
Home to Houston
Conspiracy Theory
Ashes to Ashes
America V 6.0
Simple Man
Rich Man's War
Coming Around
You're Still Standing There
Harlan Man
Copperhead Road
Condi Condi
I Thought You Should Know
Transcendental Blues
F the CC
Revolution (Beatles) /Revolution Starts Now

Guitar Town
Sweet Virginia

Encore 2
Time Has Come Today

Review and photos by Anne Sydenham

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