57 days ago
Jon Landau once famously wrote, ‘I have seen rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.’ A couple of nights ago I didn’t so much see rock’s future as revelled gloriously in its past. The Country Tones play Americana classics, and at the Thomas Trip in Christchurch they did them brilliantly. There were a couple of songs in the set that feature directly in Dead Man Singing (‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’ and ‘The Weight’, if you’re interested). About a third of the set was songs by artists who get a mention in the book (Johnny Cash, the Eagles and even an unexpected appearance from Hawkwind with the excellent 'Hurry On Sundown'), with another third from artists – Allman Brothers, Tom Petty, Flying Burrito Brothers, etc – who aren’t directly mentioned in the book but who make it onto Dave’s choice of 100 albums.
The first half of the set was a joy, with a perfect range of song selections both obvious and obscure (Lynyrd Skynrd’s 'Curtis Leow' was an unexpected delight), but in the second half, the musicianship seemed to shift up a gear and made me realise what a great little band the Country Tones are. Olly Hopper-Pay, one of the band’s two excellent guitarists (and, along with Andy Stock, one of the two musicians who brought Dave’s music to life at the book launch for Dead Man Singing) nailed a note-perfect treatment of 'Wichita Lineman', but the highlight was a song I didn’t know, a cover of the Marshall Tucker Band’s 'Take the Highway', which started strongly and just got better and better. Olly’s playing on that was extraordinary, and made me realise just how lucky I was to book him and Andy for the launch.
Two encores, including a repeat of 'The Weight' – the world is a better place for having The Band in it, never more so than when a roomful of people are singing along and urging you to take a load off – capped off a brilliant night. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to see them play again.
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