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Isbell makes it count, so does Colvin

Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, February 22, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Jason Isbell had Georgia on his mind during this rainy night in California, as he and his band (the 400 Unit) played three songs from his recent "Georgia Blue" benefit album. Some of these selections came off better than others.

"Driver 8" nicely replicated R.E.M.'s country-ish original, while Sadler Vaden relived his day with Drivin N Cryin' by singing lead on the wonderfully loud "Honeysuckle Blue." However, Isbell's wife Amanda Shires' jagged "Cross Bones Style" (a Cat Power cover) just didn't mesh well with the country and Southern rock mix that comprised the rest of the set. It was a fine set, though, as Isbell's live performances always are.

Isbell's headlining portion peaked about a third of the way in, with back-to-back-to-back performances of "Elephant," "Super 8" and "Last Of My Kind." While "Elephant" is a beautifully moody reflection on the ravages of cancer, "Super 8" helped create a good time, party mood. Finally, Isbell's "Last Of My Kind" showcased the singer/songwriter's folk songwriting skills. Then came the nostalgic "Driver 8."

Whenever Isbell plays a love song, he makes it count. Both "If We Were Vampires" and "Cover Me Up" were as realistic as they were heartfelt, as nothing Isbell sings is ever lighthearted. He encored with a blistering version of older Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well," which sent the audience away fully impressed.

Shawn Colvin opened the show with a short, but powerful set. Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, her best songs, "Shotgun Down the Avalanche" and "Sunny Came Home," hit with deadly aim, like darts to the heart. We wanted more, but couldn't have it. It's too bad she didn't co-headline with Isbell and do a full set. Furthermore, it was a shame that many in the audience arrived late, missing some or all of her brilliant set.

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