John Prine live in The Ulster Hall
The Ulster Hall Belfast,
11th April 2017
What do you want to be when you grow up? An old person. I made it.
One of the insightful lines spoken by Mr. Prine between songs.
A sold out Ulster Hall, was JP denied the use of the Waterfront by the World Irish Dancing Championships? Visions of him in a curly wig and false tan.
By his own admission, he was in “bad shape last time I was here” so he was glad to be back and fighting fit. On this occasion he had a nice four piece acoustic band with him and support from Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell.
He fairly bounded on stage and straight into the huge back catalogue. ‘Love Love Love’, ‘Long Monday’, ‘Taking A Walk’, ‘Storm Windows’, you name them he sang them.
There was a passing reference to the recent American election and while Grandpa may have voted for Eisenhower one got the impression that Mr. Prine had not favoured Donald.
The voice was strong, much stronger than in recent shows and the band were tight and clearly enjoying themselves. Sound quality is very subjective but to my ears on the night the quality was patchy. A minor quibble. Such a great songwriter with a back catalogue others can only dream of in envy.
Songs from the current album, the duets ‘In Spite Of Ourselves featured heavily and Amanda Shires joined him to deliver these. Lovely duet work, at times, augmented by Jason Isbell.
I often wondered at the very young John Prine’s ability to write insightful songs about older people. ‘Donald and Lydia’, ‘Hello In There’, ‘Grandpa Was A Carpenter’.
I think he enlightened us on this subject when speaking of as a child spending a lot of time with his grandparents and his admiration for how his grandfather went to work every day, and then changed into a three piece suit for dinner. I reckon his grandson puts his suit on every night before going on stage.
Last song was a rocking version of ‘Lake Marie’. A mysterious tale possibly about shadows and contrasts. The older Mr. Prine and the very talented Mr. Isbell?
Old he may be but he danced during the encore. Hope he’s back soon.