Olivia, Jon and I celebrated America’s birthday with Drive-By Truckers at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. As expected, the show rocked hard. Too hard for some. Jon left early, citing something about his ears. I don’t know, I couldn’t hear a word he was saying.
DBT played for over 2 and a half hours, full on, no intermission, with an encore cover of “Rocking in the Free World”, after explaining “We stopped playing encores years ago, but fuck it”. That wasn’t their only nod to Neil and Canada. Patterson Hood kicked off the show wishing the room a belated happy Canada Day before launching into “Ronnie and Neil”, complete with red and white stage lights.
About three fourths of the way into the show Hood passed a fifth of whiskey into the audience, he’d been taking the occasional pull off of it all night. A few songs later the bottle was passed back to him (Canadians being too polite). Hood took the obligatory swig from the bottle, held it in his mouth for a beat or two, realized he didn’t really want the drink, and spat the booze out on stage. I swear I could smell it, that slightly sweet whiskey, despite standing at least ten meters away. That’s why you gotta see bands live, kiddos.
You can’t pick a favorite song in shows like this, it defeats the point. They played Mike Cooley’s stuff, Hood’s stuff, and even an Adam’s House Cat tune. There were four part harmonies, a Brad Morgan drum solo, and the occasional three guitar wall of sound. Matt Patton even stepped up for a tune. And they finished strong, closing the evening with “Angels and Fuselage”, playing each other off the stage, exiting one by one until only Jay Gonzalez was left playing the keys before leaving stage himself.
Drive By Truckers are an American band, a southern American band, and appropriately proud of their identity. At Lee’s Palace you can juuust see into the top of the green room; that night there were giant gold foil “USA” letter balloons. However, I don’t think it is a coincidence that they booked a three show run in Toronto over the 4th of July this year.