John Prine is old. And he's showing it. Frankly, I spent the first 30 minutes of the show trying to recall his latest medical news, and why he was looking so frail.
In an interesting twist, JP went straight into some of his most pathos-laden tear-jerkers. I mean, the guy was not trying to pump anyone up.
But JP sounded amazing over his slow pieces. His band was jigsaw-perfect and the guitarist shined (shone?) stronger than the lauded opener.
Referring to the now eternal standard for aging country pioneers (minus a few) , John Prine is beginning to evoke Johnny Cash's 'American' agelessness.
But John couldn't quite keep up with his own fast songs. 'Please Don't Bury Me' - an all time favorite - felt pared down. Not bad, just lacking the panache I was expecting.
It all picked up when John picked up his Stratocaster, adding a little dirt and some needed noise to cover the clinks of plastic cups in the beer corner.
But that brings me to John's greatest asset: He is a a storyteller extraordinaire. He is one of the wittiest satirists of the last 30 years.
His songs are stories; oozing with sarcasm, dripping with underdog pragmatism. Prine's songs transcend the desperate era of their birth to reflect mirror-like on the present. The guy is almost a sci-fi writer- a totem of logical practicality in the face of adversity. (R.I.P. J.G. Ballard, y'all)
It's impossible not to be charmed by his intra-song rapport, no matter how practiced his bit may be. And for this reason I'm feeling a little blessed tonight.
Here's a favorite he didn't play tonight-- but it's about how he looked.