For the Drive-By Truckers it’s been a long, at times completely ball busting, climb to the top, but if the fact that the band completely sold out it’s 3-night run at the world famous 9:30 Club is any indication then it would appear that the payoff is now. This was the final show were to cover in 2011, and the Truckers are a band I’ve been looking forward to covering since the site began. Not because I’m a super-fan or anything (though I have been in the past), but more because I, as do many people who were in attendance Friday night, have a little bit of history with the band.
Back then the Truckers blew out the power for an entire city block, yet continued to play over the hum of emergency generators safety lights until it was restored...and then kept on going to past 3am. Back then the the audience was left as exhausted, sweaty, and exhilarated as band, and it truly was, as Patterson was known to say, like a giant musical “church”
Rock and roll come down from the mount to save your soul.
“How could that be?” you ask? Look, there’s no denying that some of their albums have been, um, not quite as good as the others. It happens to the best of em. But there’s always been a gem or two on every record, regardless of the sets overall quality. And while the band simply can’t match the enthusiasm that they exhibited at those Alley Katz shows so long ago, they more than make up for it now in the quality of their set.
Putting songs like “Southern Thing” or “Sinkhole”, two songs that are the sound of the band at their most raucous, early in a set would seem a miscalculation for any other band. In a set positively stuffed with fan favorites like “Women Without Whiskey”, “The Company I Keep” and a positively self destructive sing-a-long to “Hell No I Ain’t Happy” to end the show proper...and lets not mention the quadruple gut punch encore of “Ronnie and Neil”/”Zip City”/”Marry Me”/”Buttholeville”...where else is there even room? Somewhere along the line the band has finally, and sorta gloriously slipped into a sort of classic rock mode, their Tom Petty years if you will, where they can play for an audience for close to three hours and still, amazingly be playing, for the most part, their “hits”.
And that’s really the true triumph for the Drive-By Truckers this past holiday weekend. It wasn’t selling out the 9:30 Club for three nights. It wasn’t even having the legendary Booker T sit in with the band on New Years. It was their arrival at that place where their future is thiers for the taking. They’ve built their legacy and now they get to inherit everything that comes along with it. That’s almost as exciting to see as the bands hunger was in it’s early days, and from now until they decide to “roll the credits” it’s something that they can, and should be shamelessly proud of.
Given the recent lineup issues (bassist Shonna Tucker left the band a few weeks ago, and sit-in bassist Dave Barbe has one of those pesky full time jobs and can’t tour) if the Trucker’s decided to take a break, or even call it quits I don’ think anyone would blame them, but here’s to hoping that the ROCK SHOW will continue to roll on, at least in some form, for years to come.
PS: We were going to include J Roddy Walston and The Business in this review, but quite frankly, any band who can channel Jerry Lee Lewis by way of Ronnie Van Zandt by of The Marshall Tucker Band and not have it come out as pure rock schlock, is one that deserves our full attention and not just some blurb in a Truckers review. Hopefully we'll be seeing the band in a boozy club not much unlike the clubs that the Truckers used to destroy at will very soon and have a full report for you then.