Jason Isbell: Live Last Night


Live Last Night

By Juli Thanki

Friday night saw D.C. music lovers struggling with a rock-and-roll dilemma. As if the decision between The Pretenders with Cat Power and Crosby, Stills and Nash wasn't hard enough, roots-rockers Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit were thrown into the mix as well, with the bonus of far cheaper ticket prices. Isbell may have lost the attendance war, but those who made the trek to the Birchmere's bandstand were in for a treat.

Seamlessly transitioning from the blistering guitar-god solos of "Try" to the sultry soul of "Hurricanes and Hand Grenades," Isbell and the 400 Unit were in fine form, blending Muscle Shoals R&B and Southern rock with the amps cranked up to 11.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Isbell's 15-song set alternated between tracks from his two solo records and songs from his Drive-By Truckers days. There was, however, one glaring omission in an otherwise solid performance: Isbell's best-known solo song, (and one of the most poignant songs in recent memory) "Dress Blues," was nowhere to be found. Luckily, a ferocious cover of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," led by guitarist Brownan Lollar, made up for this slight oversight.

If anything sums up the evening, it would be lyrics from Isbell's final song, a sternum-rattling, extended version of "Never Gonna Change:" "We ain't never gonna change/So shut your mouth and play along." Sounds good to me.

By David Malitz |  August 17, 2009; 12:30 PM ET Live Last Night
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