John Prine and Levon Helm at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO on Saturday June 13 2009.
By: BRIAN HAMMACK HIS MUSIC SETS EMOTIONS FREE. I COULD NOT HOLD BACK THE TEARS OF JOY WHEN JOHN PLAYED SONGS THAT HAVE BEEN MY OLD FRIENDS FOR YEARS. I LOOKED OVER AT MY WIFE AT ONE POINT AND THE TEARS WERE STREAMING DOWN HER FACE AS SHE WORE THE BIGGEST SMILE POSSIBLE. FABULOUS PERFORMANCE, THE BAND WAS PERFECT. JOHN WAS IN GREAT VOICE AND DIDN'T MISS A LICK.
By: Matt One Word....Amazing. Lightning off in the distance, cool breeze and wonderful music. John Prine is the most talented songwriter and performer of our time. Levon Helm put on a great show also. A night to remember for sure.
Red rocks concerts are the best, but this one was special for everyone. To start Levon Helm opend, and played his heart out with the new band. Then Prine came on stage as levon sang the weight. perfect.
Prine continued to play an unbelievable show, crystal clear and flawless. If they made a DVD of this they could not go wrong. Perfect night, perfect venue, perfect performer.
By: John Nash Brilliant!! I was in the front row, came from Toronto, Canada. I would walk that far to see the same show. John was magnetic as was Levon. I will never forget that show. I played his music in the 70's and to actually see him perform brought numerous tears to my eyes. I can't thank him enough for this memory.
By: Brian Carney
Check out these photos from the concert by professional photographer Brian Carney!!
By: Candace Horgan on June 16, 2009 Great Live review and lots of photos - read, see, and comment here here John Prine, Levon Helm @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
As I exchanged high fives with another woman standing near me as John Prine started playing "Paradise," I found myself meditating on how musical perfection can often be best expressed in simplicity. Prine doesn't write complicated songs; in fact, most of them follow some sort of I-IV-V chord progression. However, Prine's unique lyrics, coupled with his sly vocal delivery, keep all his material sounding different and fresh, whether it was the sadly still-relevant "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore" or the irreverent "Dear Abby."
Prine played Red Rocks on a very chilly Saturday night in what was technically a co-headlining bill with the Levon Helm Band. Helm's band reminded me of seeing the Lyle Lovett Large Band; they manage to make the Red Rocks stage look almost small. In addition to Helm, there were 11 other musicians onstage.
When they launched into "Ophelia" to start the evening, they sounded tight; the five-piece horn section added great texture to a lot of classic Band songs, including "Rag Mama Rag," with a tuba solo by Howard Johnson, and "The Shape I'm In," sung by organ player Brian Mitchell.
Helm was happy to share the vocal and musical duties. His daughter Amy, who played mandolin for much of the set, switched to the drums for "Got Me a Woman," letting Levon step out and sing and play mandolin. Teresa Williams, who played acoustic guitar, sang a gut-wrenching version of the traditional tune "Long Black Veil," with Levon, Amy and guitarist Larry Campbell harmonizing beautifully on the chorus.
Helm reminded me a bit of latter-day Bill Monroe, still singing in that plaintive style, though his voice has gotten more of a rasp to it since he suffered throat cancer in the '90s. In fact, both Helm and Prine seem drawn to the roots of rock, plumbing the material for new emotional depth.
Campbell and guitarist Jimmy Vivino stepped out on solos during "Chest Fever," and Prine joined in on the set-closing version of the Band classic "The Weight," singing two of the verses.
Whereas Helm populated the stage with musicians, Prine was much lower key, joined by only Dave Jacques on bass and Jason Wilber on electric guitar; all three wore jackets and ties onstage, projecting a sort of classic (yet outlaw) country vibe. Prine himself seemed to ape Elvis Presley's out-of-control leg shaking at times during his set, while Wilber added a beautiful country twang on a lot of his solos, shining early on "Picture Show."
Prine's fans had a curious relationship with the performer Saturday. At times, Red Rocks seemed to be a much more intimate venue, such as during "Storm Windows," when you could practically hear a pin drop, or during "Lake Marie," with its lyric about "sausages ssssssssizzlin," where many in the audience screamed an exaggerated "sizz" sound right before the lyric. In fact, no matter the song, a casual glance around Red Rocks revealed people singing along and smiling.
Prine hit most of his classic songs, such as the desperate "Sam Stone," which he performed solo, and "Angel from Montgomery," which, much like Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," has become so associated with another performer who really does the definitive version (Bonnie Raitt, in this instance), it now sounds out of place when done by the person who wrote it.
Campbell and Vivino joined Prine on the second encore, "Paradise," with Campbell playing Cajun-style fiddle and Vivino trading Telecaster-twang solos with Wilber.
By: anonymous Both John Prine and Levon Helm's sets at Red Rocks Saturday night were memorable.
This is the second time I have seen John Prine paired with an exceptional opening act that featured a larger band. The first time was at the Paramount Theater a few years ago when the Cowboy Junkies opened for him. The Junkies had a 4 piece band, Levon Helm's band was 10 pieces.
My initial reaction to this when Prine took the stage in both cases with minimal accompaniment was "how can he match his opening act"? Each time, the answer quickly came. He doesn't attempt to, nor does he need to. Prine's songs are so visual and his stories are so vivid that he takes the listener to a different place. This is indicative of a truly great song writer.
John Prine and Levon Helm are troubadours. Given the medical issues they have weathered, I never expected to see either take the stage again. It was a real privilege.
What a great show last night at the incomparable Red Rocks Amphitheater. Just the drive up to the parking lot is spectacular. As you climb high into the mountains among the ancient flat slabs of red sandstone pushed up at the perfect angle to make a natural auditorium - it is just an incredible view.a
Levon Helm was scheduled to start at 7:30 and at 5:30 the heavens opened up and poured! There was even hail! A funnel cloud was spotted, but significantly east of Red Rocks. Fortunately, the deluge passed over and most of the clouds cleared. The front did take the temperature from
78 down to 65, but thankfully, it wasn't raining.
I had not seen Levon Helm before, except for "The Last Waltz" He had a whole band with him including several several brass pieces. His high energy revved up the whole crowd! He brought out his daughter, Amy Helm who did a powerful, gutsy "Long Black Veil" that brought the crowd to their feet. They did an extended version of "The Shape I'm In" Levon seemed to be quite thin, but had the energy of a freight train.
The whole band was on the stage for the finale, which was, of course "The Weight" John came out and sang the middle two verses - the one about keeping Anna Lee company, and the one about Jack, my dog. Or as John's Southern style translated 'Jack, my dawg"
They left at about 8:50 and John Prine and band rolled out at about 9:25. They opened up with a bang with Spanish Pipedream. All three were nattily dressed in sharp black suits Dave and Jason had white shirts with red ties - John had a black dress shirt with a light grey tie. And because it was cool that night, John never did "unpack his shirt" ;)
Right before they sang the second song Picture Show - Eric ran out with the clock and put it down by the speaker in front of John. So there must have been a curfew. By the end of those two rousing energetic songs, the crowd seemed to be on fire. John said "We're going to slow it down a little bit and let my band catch their breath."
I was in the third row, over to the right in front of Jason. A woman behind me yelled out (referring to Jason) "He cain't be any older than 23!'
Then for Steve Goodman - Souvenirs
Grandpa Was a Carpenter
John stops and introduces Dave Jacques and Jason Wilber.
Whistle and a Fish
He got slightly stuck on the last verse but recovered quickly remembering what he did on his very first job.
Glory Of True Love
Then they brought out the mandolin and played "Angel From Montgomery" which John dedicated to the memory of Barry Beckett.
The band left and John did a solo set. All this time John seemed to be particularly energetic and in great humor. He did that thing where he would come out to the edge of the stage and looks right at people who were taking his picture. He hard-strummed his guitar at the end of more than a few songs. He had a lilt in his step when he would finish a song and go back to get a swig of water.
Donald and Lydia
Big Old Goofy World
Please Don't Bury Me
During which he got his knee going back and forth pretty good!
Dave rejoined, then Jason. Then they got to what Reeda calls "That" part of the show when the music gets big and electric.
They did the most high enery version of Bear Creek where John GOT INTO it! It was a pleasure to watch him, he looked like he was having a great time rockin' out. Dave was playing a red electric guitar I don't see him bring out a lot.
She Is My Everything - where John was actually doing a bit of a strut back and forth across the stage.
Ain't Hurtin' Nobody - where he actually got both legs going tapping his boots to the stage as fast as the music's beat.
Then the finale - Lake Marie - which did not disappoint! At the end, instead of "Top 'o the world, ma" he said "Wake up little Suzie"
Two songs for the encore. People Puttin' People Down and of course, Paradise. Levon Helm's band members came out and played. Larry Campbell played electric fiddle (which was an interesting layer we don't often hear) and Tom Weidart on electric guitar.
The whole amphitheater stood up and clapped til the lights went back up, and I've got to say it was a memorable night with John in top form.
PREVIEW INTEVIEW FOR Red Rocks, Morrison CO By: John Wenzel Read and comment on the full interview here-----
John Prine will play at Red Rocks on Saturday for as long as we let him. Seriously.
Country-folk legend John Prine is certainly a friend of the Front Range, having visited Red Rocks, the Paramount Theatre, Denver Botanic Gardens and other venues regularly over his nearly four decades of touring and recording. Prine even remembers Marvelous Marv's, a club near 15th and Curtis streets that eventually became '70s folk- and rock-haven Ebbets Field. "It had leopard-skin walls, and the waitresses were dressed like cave women," the 62-year-old Grammy winner said with a chuckle from Nashville earlier this week. "The place more resembled a Playboy club, but it was under this office building downtown."
We talked to Prine in advance of his co-headlining date with Levon Helm at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Saturday about his Denver memories, his history with Helm and the value of throwing out your set list.
Q: Colorado had a strong folkmusic circuit in the early 1970s, which is when you started coming up. Did you play here much?
A: I started coming out there pretty early on. Me and Steve Goodman (a fellow Chicago folk revivalist) would do a week at a time at Tulagi's in Boulder. I also played Ebbets Field, Chuck Morris' club, with George Carlin, who was just getting rid of his Hippy Dippy Weatherman act. The conservatives in the audience were not used to it, and I remember Carlin referred to the audience as "beehives and bow-ties." He was fun, unlike a lot of comedians.
Q: You're co-headlining Red Rocks with Levon Helm, the former drummer and sometime-singer for the Band. You seem to have a strong connection, besides the fact that you've both beaten cancer that could have ended your singing careers. When did you two first meet?
A: I didn't meet Levon until after (Band singer) Robbie Robertson left and the Band regrouped, probably in the late '70s. I used to go see him play, and I got to know (bassist) Rick Danko. But when I first met Levon, there was something about his personality that immediately attracted me to him, besides being a big fan of his playing and singing.
Q: What is it you like about his playing?
A: The reason I don't use a drummer live is because most drummers scare me. If they're the slightest bit ahead, I'll find my rhythm guitar catching up with them because they're louder than me. But Levon always plays behind the beat. You think he's going to miss it but then he slams it out of the park
Q: What's the setup going to be like at your show on Saturday?
A: What I'm hoping for is to be able to go out and play with him and his band and also have some, if not all, of them come out and play with us. I'll also be doing most of my regular show with my band. We'll see if they lay any curfews on us first, 'cause I hate to cut back.
Q: Do you prefer longer sets?
A: We just try and cover as much territory as possible and do songs from all the records. I don't do a set list, per se. I wrote so many ballads that I always feel like I have to put an upbeat song after something like "Sam Stone." But we do a lot of the songs from the very first record that have turned into such classics.
Q: Do you adjust your performance style at large amphitheaters like Red Rocks?
A: A I try and keep it more upbeat and keep people in a festive mood. Other than that, I'll probably be wearing the same suit I was when I was there last year with Emmylou (Harris).
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