Having missed Jason Isbell when he visited New Zealand 4 years ago, I didn’t want to miss out this time, especially with our Nadia Reid opening as a stellar bonus – at The Powerstation venue, 27 Mar 2018.
Isbell’s work now is billed with his band as ‘Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit‘.
Now a multi-Grammy winning artist, Alabama-born Jason Isbell was a guitarist first, before hitting the lights as a song-writer and it shows – numerous guitar changes, electric & acoustic. Most distinctive to my eye, (for guitar nerds) a ‘Gold Top’ vintage 50s style Gibson Les Paul and the German ‘Duesenberg’. Noted also, was his sophisticated pedal board.
First rate artists usually have top shelf support instrumentalists & Isbell’s band, the ‘400 Unit’ are indeed so. I was especially interested in his guitarist, Sadler Vaden, particularly when playing slide. The keyboardist Derry de Borja was also prominent and extrovert. Together with Jimbo Hart (bass) and Chad Gamble (drums), all in all, a solid rockin’ band.
I’m not yet familiar with their latest album, The Nashville Sound. The set-list was a mixture also of his earlier albums and a couple from his Drive By Truckers days (wherein he was a band-member).
The more interesting Americana artists are great song-writers observing not only themselves, but also the travails of rural and urban middle-America – relevant to understand in these political times. Jason Isbell is one of these song-writers.
Nadia Reid – has also just released a second solo album. It’s good to see her rocking out live with a small band nowadays.