[Photo by: Jeff O’Kelley]
Saturday night, the wife and I braved the torrential downpour and ventured out to the State Theatre to see Hank III and his traveling band. Due to some issues with openers in the past few months, Hank is currently (and for the unforeseeable future) touring without any opening acts, which would normally make me pretty happy but III has a history of bringing some pretty good bands out on the road with him. Anyhow, due to the aforementioned rains, we arrived frighteningly late and worried about having missed the beginning of the show only to find ourselves standing around for a good hour, making the lack of an opener even more painful.
Some of you might be wondering, given my stance on III’s recent albums, why I would even bother going to a III show at all. Well, truth is, the fact that the wife and I would get in for free certainly aided in the decision, but there’s also the fact that I’ve never said the dude puts on a bad show. No. Redundant topics and tired material aside, Hank III live is still a show worth going to see and this especially rainy Saturday night was no different.
Once the band took the stage, the format was pretty standard: country, Hellbilly, country and Assjack. Hank took the stage and immediately took command of what had to be a capacity crowd. The opening country set came in pretty short, with the band only playing three or four numbers before being joined on stage by Assjack frontman Gary Lindsey [pictured after the jump] for the Hellbilly set.
Now, I gotta say, I’ve seen Hank III a lot of times, and this was probably the best Hellbilly set I’ve ever seen from him. The band was tight, the sound was great and Lindsey’s growls, screams and backing vocals were spot on and perfect. By the time the Hellbilly set was winding down the excessively drunk masses from the pits were starting to stumble their way towards the back, stepping on feet, spilling beers and being the nuisance I typically am, so the wife and I drifted towards the back / lobby area for the remainder of the country set. (I’ve seen III live enough to know what he looks like, I just need to hear him these days.)
Hank made up for the short duration of the initial country set with the second that stretched on for over an hour. They did a really good job of interspersing the newer (not as good/bad) material in with his older (awesome) stuff so that I, an avowed nonfan of his recent material, never started looking at my watch, wanting the set to be over. That said, as is typical for me, I left before the Assjack began. I love the fact that he plays the Assjack set, but I’m only lukewarm to it on CD and do not like it live at all.
In the end, the show really reinforced my overall opinion of III these days. You can see the talent in him, but the last two albums have just felt, in a word, lazy. The songs don’t even come off well in a live environment. As I said when reviewing The Rebel Within, hopefully the last two albums were put out to get off Curb Records and now that he’s free we’ll see a return to Straight To Hell form.