The five-piece Drive-By Truckers pulled into New York City on Friday night February 21st to play a show at the recently renovated Webster Hall as they tour behind their excellent, politically motivated record, The Unraveling. The group seemed revved up walking out to the stage and while there was a clear focus on their new tunes every aspect of their career received an airing.
The night kicked off with a musical highlight right from the start as “Made Up English Oceans” was confidently delivered with a spaghetti western swagger coursing through the spine the of the song. While the vocals were a bit low in the mix to start, the drama was still palpable on the more restrained “Rosemary With a Bible and a Gun”. The group alternated between both of their co-front men as Patterson Hood would sing a tune then Mike Cooley would step up to deliver next throughout the massive 28 song set.
Every tune was strong throughout but a few moments were elevated such as the twang laden “A Ghost to Most”, the straight-ahead rocking of “Ronnie and Neil” and the serpentine riffs of “Sink Hole” where multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez joined on six-string for a three-guitar attack. Cooley’s slide guitar work on “Heroin” was fluid while a strong beat was laid down by bassist Matt Patton and drummer Brad Morgan for the groups newest single “Armageddon’s Back in Town”.
The band did a knock out NYC punk cover of The Ramones “The KKK Took My Baby Away” (with Patton on lead vocals) just a few blocks north of the old CBGB’s before kicking up the heavy metal vibe for “Lookout Mountain” and a second cover, Warren Zevon’s “Play It All Night Long”, which stomped and threw itself against the proverbial wall.
The event wrapped up with Cooley delivering a blazing version of “Zip City” and Hood demonstrably yelling out “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy” with power chords ringing. No encore on this night, just a strong statement on the current state of affairs from a locked-in veteran band still playing near the top of their game.