This past Monday night my wife and I saw John Hiatt live at the Rams Head On Stage venue in Annapolis MD. It was my first concert in probably 2 years. Words cannot begin to describe the absolute joy I felt sitting in the Rams Head experiencing one of my favorite artists live again. I felt like a parched man wandering through the desert who had finally found an oasis to quench his thirst. A battery that was about tapped out that suddenly was recovering its charge. I felt I was connected to that mystical musical source that sustains my soul and provides its purest power in the form of live music. It was such an incredible feeling.
Hiatt was on tour to promote his new album, Leftover Feelings, a collaboration with dobro master Jerry Douglas, whose band was backing Hiatt on this tour. Consisting of Mike Seal on electric guitar, Daniel Kimbro on stand up bass, Christian Sedelmyer on fiddle, and Douglas on dobro and lap steel guitar, the band really brought out the country and Americana aspects that are an inherent part of much of Hiatt’s music (and yes even a bit of bluegrass). Hiatt played a number of tunes off the new album, while sprinkling in songs from over his entire career. It was a real kick to hear some of his classics brought to live in this new way by the band. Here’s a video I shot of Slow Turning, off the album of the same name from 1988 – note the audience reaction when it gets to the lyrical reference to Charlie Watts.
Hiatt was in fine form, and it seemed to me that he was really enjoying having a band backing him to bring added life to his songs. I have seen him a number of times over the last 5-6 years, and with the exception of the 30 year anniversary concert tour for Slow Turning (where he was backed up by the Goners), its always been him solo acoustic. He was ducking and weaving and stomping around on stage like he was 30 years younger.
Highlights of the concert for me were Feels Like Rain , another tune off of Slow Turning, Have a Little Faith in Me from Bring the Family (my wife and I’s wedding song, done solo as the first encore), as well as Your Dad Did (also from Bring the Family). In all the years I’ve been seeing Hiatt live (going back to the late 80s, I’ve never heard it live. Your Dad Did tells the humorous story of a new Dad with his young family, realizing with some degree of surprise and horror that he’s not that different from his own Dad, I think something that a lot of us realize as we get older. It was a real treat to hear if finally live after all these years.
After a 18 song, close to 90 minute set, Hiatt closed the show with Riding with the King, a classic older song from 1983 Here’s the video I shot of that one – they really burned it up and you can see what I mean about Hiatt having a ball.
I’m still riding the high of the concert the next day, and am so grateful that Maryland has such a high vaccination rate that I felt comfortable attending this show and that Hiatt felt comfortable enough to tour. Hopefully this is a sign that we are inching closer to something approaching normalcy, at least in regards to live music. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking him out live!
- That Thing You Need (Solo)
- All the Lilacs in Ohio
- Perfectly Good Guitar
- Slow Turning
- Crossing Muddy Waters
- Long Black Electric Cadillac
- The Music is Hot
- I’m in Asheville
- Your Dad Did
- Feels Like Rain (with Jerry Douglas)
- LIft Up Every Stone (with Jerry Douglas)
- Little Goodnight
- Master of Disaster
- Mississippi Phone Booth
- Drive South
- Thing Called Love
- Have a Little Faith in Me (solo)
- RIding With the King