Tour of Duty
Since Jason Isbell’s newest album Southeastern was released earlier this year, it has been a mainstay in my daily musical rotation. It is safe to say I have listened to Southeastern more than I have not since its release. This year I have been lucky enough to have more than one album speak to me and seem relevant with my current place in life. I have been a fan of Jason’s for several years and I have been following his solo career pretty closely, especially, as of late, with his new lease on life found in his relief from his battle with alcohol and substance abuse. Like Jason, I have had my own battles with drugs and alcohol and we are on a pretty close timeline in our journey into sobriety. His new album resonates loud with the struggles of the past, bad mistakes, lost love, and redemption. All emotions and experiences I know too well. Southeastern and Jason’s show last night at the Georgia Theatre are testaments to the fact that people can change, despite the pain, and come back better than ever.
I have wanted to do a piece on Mr. Isbell for some time now, but I have been holding off for the right time and it has finally arrived. Last night’s show at the Georgia Theatre was pretty special for a few reasons. I had an extra ticket and was able to give it to a buddy of mine who is a big fan; one that despite all the concerts he has seen over the years has never been to the famous Georgia Theatre. A trip to the GATH is a must for any true music fan, but when it is one of your favorite musicians, it makes it that much better. Watching my friend shake his fist and sing along to Jason’s mighty voice and doing some rocking of my own with a few amazing new friends encapsulated everything that is great about a true rock n roll experience.
Flying over Water, from the new album started everything off. This is one of my favorites to sing along to, showing Jason’s strength not only as a guitar player but as a singer as well. With this we were off and running. Go it Alone, Tour of Duty, Decoration Day, and Outfit were all fantastic mixing the old and new together flawlessly. With Different Days, out came the acoustic guitar and things slowed down a bit. All country and full of glory Jason sang these slow and admittedly sad songs with a huge smile. Live Oak, Stockholm, and Travelling Alone are three of my favorites and he nailed them all with confidence. The band wrapped up the show with Never Gonna Change, Alabama Pines, and Goddamn Lonely Love. All were deep and heartfelt played with the passion of a new man, finally comfortable in his own boots. Jason encored with Super 8 and the Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’. Both were full tilt, straight up rock n roll. The GATH was rockin’ and Jason loved it. It was more than obvious Jason was happy to be in that moment on that sacred stage.
Jason nailed the night and it showed in his voice, his guitar, and his smile. He looked healthy and happy, seeming to be having the time of his life. It was great to hear everyone cheer when he sang of “swearing that stuff off for good this time.” It was more than evident that a clear and sober mind does a body good, and allow for all the greatness to show after hiding in the dark for so long. Jason put on a great show, he knew it, and the crowd knew it and we all felt good. Leaving a rock show the way we should; happy and satisfied. Hopefully, Jason will continue on his own Tour of Duty, proving song by song and show by show that he is hands down the best songwriter in America today.
One last note, St. Paul and the Broken Bones opened the show last night and all I can say is wow. If you love Otis Redding the way I do, you will love these guys. They will be one to keep an eye on for sure. Simply amazing!