CENTER, CHICAGO, IL
October 5, 2002
THIS WAS THE THIRD TIME I'VE BEEN TO A JOHN PRINE CONCERT AND IT WAS OUTSTANDING. THE FIRST TIME WAS AT THE OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF MUSIC - FIRST ROW, LAST MAY AT THE CORONADO THEATER IN ROCKFORD, IL AND SATURDAY WE WERE IN THE SECOND ROW AT THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY HALL. I NEVER HEARD OF HIM UNTIL A FEW YEARS AGO AND NOW I'M A TRUE FAN. DAVE AND JASON ARE INCREDIBLE MUSICIANS AS WELL. IRIS
DEMENT AND JOHN ARE A DYNAMIC DUO. I'M ALREADY LOOKING FOR THE NEXT CONCERT - IT'S NEVER TOO SOON.
By: DAVE HOEKSTRA -
I've been seeing John Prine in concert for 30 years and I don't imagine many shows were as trying as Saturday's performance at Symphony Center.
Prine's mother, Verna Valentine Hamm, died a couple of weeks ago. His musical roots come from her side of the family; her father, John Luther Hamm, was a guitar player in the guitar-as-banjo style of Merle Travis. Like any mom, Hamm was proud of her sons, and between the sweet harmonies of John, Billy and Dave Prine she had much to be proud of.
Fittingly, her spirit defined the eloquent two-hour concert.
Prine, bassist David Jacques and multi-guitarist (I counted seven guitars onstage) Jason Wilber turned out a deeply evocative version of "Souvenirs," which Prine dedicated to his mother and his late friend Steve Goodman. Prine later dug deep into his back pages for a roadhouse cover of the Carter Family's "Bear Creek Blues." The hard country blues anthem written by Lesley Riddle (a compatriot of Brownie McGhee's) was one of the first songs Prine learned when he was a 14-year-old on the west suburban Maywood homestead.
Prine also dedicated the evening's final song to his mother. Titled "Paradise," it was written about the small western Kentucky mining town where his parents were from. (His mother's father ran a ferryboat on the Green River in Kentucky.)
The tender 1971 ballad "Six O'clock News" was only the second song of the set, but from Prine's measured delivery you could tell it was going to be a unique night. Framed only by string bass and subtle harmonica, Prine sang, ".. ..The days are growing shorter/the nights are long and cold. ..," and somewhere a mother was listening to her son's warm heart.
Just like a long over due visit with an old friend.....it was wonderful to see you again. You say it like no one else can. We're all moving along in our lives, time does not stand still...yet each song remains true, sometimes because history continues to repeat itself, "Sam Stone"... other times because we now stand in another place....the forever powerful and sensitive "Hello in There" but now our own parents eyes are in that image. But the hilarious reality of human beings remain a joke shared among friends...."a happy enchilada." Continue as you are, never stop writing because you do it like no one else can. Wishing you good health, peace, and many more songs. I quote you often because ooh baby it is a big old goofy world.
By: Kevin McKeough
When John Prine, joined by Iris DeMent, sang "in spite of ourselves, we'll end up sitting on a rainbow" at Symphony Center Saturday night, he might have relished how apt the line was in that moment.
Here was the former mailman from Maywood, with his wheezing gravel pit of a voice and his song about a husband sniffing his wife's underwear, performing for an enrapt, capacity crowd at the city's most hallowed concert hall.
Prine has gone from being one of the brightest lights on Chicago's early-'70s folk scene to a songwriting icon who for the past two decades has lived in Nashville, but he has done it with his unassuming, aw-shucks nature intact. If anything, during his generous performance - nearly two dozen songs in more than two hours - he was even more affable and down-to-earth than he had been playing a similar set at his alma mater, the Old Town School of Folk Music, during a four-night stand in 1999.
Prine, who turns 56 on Thursday, graciously accepted happy birthday wishes from the crowd, and he hailed the folks in the upper balcony, recalling how he'd once sat there watching a speck that might have been James Taylor. When his young sons Jack and Tommy clambered onto the bleachers on the left side of the stage to watch the show, their dad waved rather than shooed them away.
That familiarity carried over to the songs, which seemed especially heartfelt and urgent on this night. Prine may have the roughest voice this side of Bob Dylan, but he sings with great tenderness, imbuing his stories with the matter-of-fact immediacy of a conversation over a kitchen table.
The wife-swapping novelty hit "Let's Invite Them Over" and ordinary-folks anthem "(We're Not) The Jet Set" fit right in with Prine's own songs, which found screwball humor and haunting pathos in the commonplace. Folksy bemusement met Zen-like acceptance on "That's the Way That the World Goes Round," while the empty space he left in "Angel from Montgomery" and "Hello in There" made his portraits of the lonely elderly especially poignant.
The drums of war beating in the background also revived the long-dormant social criticism implicit in some of the songs Prine - who was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War - wrote in his early years. "Sam Stone," a tale of a war hero turned junkie, became even more harrowing, and on "The Great Compromise," Prine softly but pointedly sang, "I'd rather have names thrown at me than to fight for a thing that ain't right."
That the metaphorical conflict in question is being jilted for another man at a drive-in movie speaks volumes about Prine's quirky skill. It's exactly because, not in spite, of the quiet truths he conveys with oddball humor and offhand charm that his songs have lasting and gaining power.
It was just awesome!! John sang and played for 2 solid hours and seemed as happy to be there at the end as when he began. Iris DeMent was excellent as well and the duets with both of them were so enjoyable. I cannot say enough to do justice to the great performance and experience. Needless to say I am a devoted fan and my neighbor has become a convert as a result of the concert.
Coronado Theatre, Rockford, Illinois
By: Reeda Buresh, aka PMS*red aka Prine Shrine Webmistress
My notes and never ending ramblings on this two shows begins - HERE
By: 20 year fan
Very nice job by John, theatre was great... he played a lot of great material. Why are the fans in Illinois so rude? He's a professional musician putting on a professional show. Please don't yell at him like he's your younger brother in your family room. I think John was as irritated as I was...
Loved Todd as well, but I could have heard some more from him.
Did anyone else think John's throat was bothering him?
Well, just when I thought John Prine couldn't top the last time I went to see him, he went and outdid himself again. It was a great show with many of my favorites. Todd Snider was a perfect opener and did a great job. If you get a chance to see him on his own, go out and support another great Oh Boy artist. John's voice sounded great and he played several of the songs that are my favorites (of course that's not too hard since I love them all). The theater was an amazing restored theater that was a show in itself. I went with my brother who last saw John in 1982 and he was very impressed. Great people, great music, and I even got to talk to some of the shriners. Only one thing though, I sure wish I had me one them there triangles to get backstage after the show :)
By: Rockford hater
Prine was strong as always. The audience was an absolute disgrace. Prine was clearly annoyed by the barbaric behavior. Thank God I moved away from Illinois and the
Midwest 20 years ago. I know Prine must feel the same way after the Rockford show.
If you want to see Prine at his best I suggest a trip to the West Coast where people don't yell out Illegal Smile before every song.
WOW! AS A VERY NEW PRINE FAN I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. I ONLY HAD TWO MONTHS OF
PREPARATION FOR THIS CONCERT. WITH REPEATED LISTENINGS OF THE ANTHOLOGY CD'S I BECAME AS FAMILIAR WITH MR. PRINE'S WORK AS I POSSIBLY COULD IN SUCH A SHORT TIME. THERE COULD HAVE NOT BEEN A
BETTER STUDY GUIDE. HE PLAYED ALL OF MY FAVORITES FROM THOSE CD'S. I WAS ALSO VERY PLEASE WITH THE TWO FINE MUSICIANS PLAYING WITH HIM. FRIDAYS VERSION OF ANGEL FROM MONTGOMERY WAS SPLENDID. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED
SOUVENIRS AND PARADISE. THESE AND NUMEROUS OTHER WERE PLAYED FROM THE HEART.
THE CORONADO THEATER IS A WONDERFUL PLACE TO SEE SUCH AN INTIMATE CONCERT. THE SOUND WAS WONDERFUL. I HOPE ALL OF JOHN'S FANS WHO CAME TO MY CITY HAD A GOOD TIME. I COULD TELL FROM THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING NEAR ME THAT YOU CAME FROM FAR AND WIDE.
TODD SNIDER DID A GREAT BUT TOO SHORT OPENING SET. I'M HOPING I CAN SEE MORE OF HIM IN THE FUTURE. HE ALSO IS A WONDERFUL SONG WRITER.