Steve Earle / Joel Plaskett Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, BC January 23
Published Jan 25, 2010The Olympics are polarizing the masses of Vancouver, and despite the fact this gig was part of the Cultural Olympiad series, more than a few "boos" were heard whenever they were brought up by either Joel Plaskett or Steve Earle. Yet both Plaskett and Earle offered an inspired look at the world in front of them. With the majestic Orpheum as their backdrop, they displayed the sort of youthful exuberance normally reserved for a dimly lit punk show. And despite the age gap between them, they both sang songs of heartbreak and wanderlust, easily seducing the crowd.
With Plaskett bringing his father William onstage for most of his set, their stage presence was simplistic. The smiles they threw at each other had most of the crowd pining for admission to the Plaskett family reunion. Relying heavily on tunes from his latest, Polaris-nomiated Three record, Plaskett Jr. and Sr. grooved with casual efficiency. There were times where the crowd couldn't tell whether or not Joel Plaskett was being serious with his stage banter. Yet there was no doubt that, if he was, it was all in the name of a good time. He poked fun at himself and still let the Orpheum know repeatedly what an honour it was to share the stage with Earle.
Earle, performing solo, regaled the crowd with stoic tales of his hero, Townes Van Sandt. His set was thick with tunes from Townes, his latest record full of Van Sandt covers. He brought the crowd on a journey, singing songs of the hard, lonesome road that only Earle knows. Yet Earle tried desperately to bring the crowd along with him. And as Vancouver prepares to welcome the world, full of trepidation, it turns out the road he sung of was one all Vancouver will travel together.