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JOHN PRINE August 5, 2005 - Vancouver - Orpheum Theatre

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The following really belongs in the new Reviews Section of this board, and Bouche has even given me "permission" to be able to upload stuff there. Unfortunately, though, I am an inept computer user and don't know .html yet, so I can't put it there myself. Bouche, you're welcome to move the following to the Reviews Page if you'd like. Otherwise, here are my thoughts on the show I saw yesterday...

John Prine is the most captivating consummate “regular guy” I’ve ever had the honour of seeing perform on a stage. He put on a show at the beautiful, ornate, classically styled Orpheum Theatre to a crowd of adoring fans last night. At times, the music raised a few goose bumps on my arms, whereas at other times it caused me to burst into laughter.

I should take a step back, though, because the night began with a great opening act. Amos Lee is an incredibly talented, young acoustic guitarist / singer / songwriter, from Philadelphia, who had the crowd warmed up (boiling over!) after a half-hour mini-set. The crowd dug him so much, and kept cheering so long when he was done, that he came out and did an encore, which in my experience is very rare for opening acts. I bought his debut CD on the way out. If you get a chance to see this guy, do it; or at least check out his tunes at www.amoslee.com.

Now … the main event …

John Prine was backed by two musicians who have been his touring band for a few years now; Dave Jacques , on bass (both double-bass and electric) and Jason Wilbur on electric guitar (as well as electric mandolin and harmonica). These two guys are fantastic.

The show consisted of one long set of two hours; followed by a generous encore. (I think the Orpheum attempted to encourage him to cut his encore short, as the house lights were turned on halfway through “Illegal Smile”, but went off again when the band clearly showed no intentions of leaving.)

At the outset of John Prine’s set I was a bit concerned that I was not going to be pleased with this show, as the sound was muddier than I can describe. I could barely make out the words he was singing. Between the second and third songs, though, thankfully the sound became clearer. (It really never became as clear as it should have, but it was fine for the rest of the show. I also wonder if it had to do with where my seats were, as I was in 9th row on the floor, and those were the best seats I’ve ever had at the Orpheum. Maybe things just sound better on the balcony?)

In the folk tradition, John Prine also told a few stories to accompany some of his songs…

He told a couple of his old standbys that he tells at most of his shows; such as the story about how he wrote “All the Best” when he was invited to play a song at his ex’s wedding; where he debuted the song. (If you don’t know the lyrics, look them up and you’ll realize how funny that is.) He also iterated the (perhaps overtold) story about his friend’s wife who requested from him, “that song about the Happy Enchilada”. (Of course, she meant “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round”, but thought the lyrics, “It’s a half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown” were, “It’s a happy enchilada and you think your gonna drown.”)

He also added a couple of new stories. He explained that he wrote “She Is My Everything” for his wife of the last decade, “Fiona”. He also introduced “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You In Heaven Anymore” by saying “I wrote this in 1968 and thought I retired it in 1978. I just didn’t have any reason to sing it anymore, until about two years ago when I got a special request from President Bush … Well, it wasn’t really a formal request.”

So, to summarize …

I really enjoyed the opening act, was a bit annoyed during the first two Prine songs due to the muddy sound, but was more than satisfied by the end of the two hours that followed. The highlights for me were definitely “Souvenirs”, “Sam Stone”, “Hello in There”, and (of course) “Illegal Smile”.

I always enjoy a John Prine show, and this was no exception. Go see him.


Blow Up Your TV

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You In Heaven Anymore

Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

Six O’Clock News *


Fish and Whistle ~

Fair and Square

Just Gettin’ By

All the Best

Angel From Montgomery ~

Long Monday ^

Crazy as a Loon ^

Donald and Lydia ^

Dear Abby ^

That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round (a.ka. “Happy Enchilada”) ^

Sam Stone **

Bear Creek Blues

She Is My Everything

Ain’t Hurtin’ Nobody

Some Humans Ain’t Human ```

Hello in There

Lake Marie


Sweet Revenge ^^

Illegal Smile

Paradise ***


*w/ Jason Wilbur addin’ a little harmonica

~ w/ Jason Wilbur wailin’ on electric-mandolin

^ John Prine solo

** Started out John Prine solo, then Dave Jacques joined in with his bow on the double-bass, and gradually Jason Wilbur joined in with electric guitar. The trio then played together for the remainder of the show.

``` w/ beautiful comment on George W. Bush starting his own “private war”

^^ “In memory of Hunter S. Thompson!”

*** w/ Amos Lee accompanying on guitar, and singing a verse.

Quote of the Day:

“Play some ZZ Top!”

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