Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
ameron Marlowe is a bit of a conundrum. Most likely a good conundrum. On the one hand, he offers nods to traditional country music and underscores that with his covers (Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" definitely done his way – a bit bluesy, a bit punky and the country rock of Travis Tritt's "T-R-O-U-B-L-E"). But then he can quickly shift gears to rock. Not to mention a softer (and very effective) acoustic side.
For the North Carolina native, the stylistic elasticity works.
Marlowe was understandably in good spirits. As the year winds down, he's had a real good one. He released his debut album. Scored a few hits off of it. Hit the road with a very high profile Morgan Wallen tour (with a Canadian tour with Thomas Rhett coming early next year). And on this night, he easily sold out the club of 525 people weeks away (of course, in truth, he probably underplayed the market).
And with the packed crowd of 20-something's pretty much waiting on every word and note, Marlowe clearly enjoyed the night.
Marlowe got the night rolling with musically upbeat "Sober as a Drunk," about the end of a relationship. Marlowe alternated between the harder-edged/rocking songs and softer material. A two-guitar attack from Jake Haas and Rodney Carmichael often provided the musical punch.
There were a number of songs referencing alcohol ("Ain't Enough Whiskey" and "Stay Here and Drank"), but this wasn't only a night of getting drunk.
Marlowe has a bit of a soulful voice that serves him well ("Country Boy's Prayer"). "Steady Heart" remains a pretty song in the hands of Marlowe, while he excelled on the three-song solo acoustic set of "I'm Over You," "Running Out on You" and his take on Jamie Johnson's "In Color," a song he said that spoke to him in his youth. Unfortunately, the middle song of the acoustic set was cut short because of a medical situation involving a fan immediately in front of Marlowe, who stopped the show to get help for the fan.
But Marlowe quickly got back on track, ending the set with "Girl on Fire" and his biggest hit, "Giving You Up," with the crowd singing along throughout.
About the only problem with the show was the lighting. Marlowe and his band were bathed in dark light for much of the show, making it hard to see them. Finally, that changed towards the end of the show.
Ultimately, Marlowe was a performer comfortable in his own skin whatever the style. And based on this night, he's onto something.
Opening act Wyatt McCubbin has enjoyed a modicum of success as a songwriter. He has four cuts on Marlowe's album, including "We Were Cowboys." Cody Johnson and Brent Cobb, among others, have cut his songs. The question always seems to be with acts like McCubbin of whether they're better off sticking to writing.
In the case of McCubbin, nope. He showed that he deserved his time on stage as well. He is more traditional on his recordings than he was live, but still veered more towards the country of yesteryear. He has a batch of good songs ("Honky Tonk Hardwood Floors," which Johnson recorded) and also was an effective singer, putting his material out there with confidence.
Marlowe even let McCubbin sing his version of "We Were Cowboys," which came across differently than the headliner given that McCubbin was solo acoustic. That said a lot about Marlowe, who with a band supporting him, turned in a more muscular version. As for McCubbin, he probably got more to the heart of the song as a result of being solo.
This was a good night for McCubbin, who should stick to writing and performing.