Steve Earle and The Dukes | The Mastersons – 21st July 2018 – Sage Gateshead
By Kevin Burdon (Kevin Burdon Photography)
The excellent SummerTyne Americana Festival returned to the Sage for 2018, featuring loads of great acts both inside the main halls but also outside in the glorious sunshine. The Saturday night of the event was headlined by legendary songwriter Steve Earle and his band the Dukes.
Support for Steve’s tour came from husband & wife duo the Masterson’s featuring the Dukes’ Chris Masterson (guitar/vocals) and Eleanor Whitmore (fiddle/vocals). The Sage audience were treated to a short set of sublime vocal harmonies (particularly Transient Lullaby which was absolutely beautiful) and terrific songwriting and musicianship. The couple created a really relaxed and humorous vibe on stage, and they warmed the crowd up well with their laid back set.
Steve Earle and The Dukes
The opening section of the Dukes set drew heavily from the band’s latest CD So You Wanna be an Outlaw, an approach which can sometimes alienate the casual listener who is there mainly for the ‘hits’, but Earle had no such problem on this occasion which is testament to the quality of the songs on the new album. The titular track, Looking for a Woman & Firebreak Line were particularly impressive in a live setting, while News From Colorado was immaculately delivered to a respectfully attentive Sage audience.
Steve was an entertaining host for the evening in a jovial mood, joking with a heckler that shouted out for a classic hit “you think I’m not going to play that one? You might not be awake to hear it…”.
There were plenty of classic Earle tracks in the setlist too, a goosebump-inducing rendition of My Old Friend the Blues led into a run of classics that included Guitar Town and I Ain’t Ever Satisfied. The rest of the set was nicely balanced between new songs and obligatory classics like Johnny Come Lately, The Galway Girl and of course Copperhead Road. The band closed the main set with an excellent cover of Hey Joe (complete with a cheeky dig at Donald Trump), but one of the highlights of the evening was a beautifully subdued rendition of The Girl on the Mountain at the end of the encore, bringing to a close an outstanding set.
It was my first time seeing a gig in the main hall of the Sage and it’s worth mentioning that the acoustics of the room are exceptional. The mix was almost perfect, allowing each instrument to shine through with remarkable clarity, which is vital when mixing a group of musicians of this calibre. Even Steve commented on the quality of the venue from a performer’s perspective.
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