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Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Ut

By Scott Iwasaki - Deseret News music editor

      Welcome to John Prine's world, a world full of disparate personalities:
      - War heroes with dark secrets.
      - Husbands with overbearing wives.
      - People who have only a casual relationship with their maker.
      - An ex-husband invited to his ex-wife's wedding.
      Each of those, and other clearly portrayed characters, made an appearance through song in Abravanel Hall on Saturday night when Prine took to the microphone.
      The intricate finger-picking, the sometimes humorous and often poignant lyrics, along with Prine's heartfelt delivery, developed each story line with honesty.
      Prine's band - with bassist David Jacques and guitarist Jason Wilber - delivered a crystal-clear mix as they added full-bodied bass lines and lonely slide-guitar leads.
      Songs about everyday people trying to cope with the world came through in the introspective "Six O'clock News" and "Storm Windows," complemented by the subtle grinning irony of such other tunes as the waltzing "Dear Abby" and "Picture Show."
      The band also played "Fish and Whistle," a work about mankind coming to terms with deity.
      "Sam Stone," the singer's trademark tune about a war vet with a drug problem, and "All the Best," a song Prine wrote about being asked to sing at his ex-wife's wedding, unfolded in an intimate mix.
      The band charmed the crowd with such older gems as "Angel From Montgomery," "Souvenirs" and "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore."
      Prine and his musical compadres also introduced some new songs that are going to be on an album sometime next year: The uplifting "Glory of True Love" and the encouraging "I'm Just Getting By" are chock-full of Prine's lyrical craft and were received with cheers from the appreciative audience.
      "In Spite of Ourselves," a song originally recorded with Iris Dement, is about a couple coming to terms with each other's weaknesses. And "The Other Side of Town" reflects a man's daydreaming about survival as his overbearing wife verbally beats him to the ground.
      Such crowd favorites "I Ain't Hurtin' Nobody," "Donald and Lydia," "Hello in There" and "Lake Marie" rounded out the captivating concert.
      Prine's wife, Fiona, joined him on stage for a low-key take on " 'Til a Tear Becomes a Rose." The band then re-emerged for "That's Alright by Me" and "Paradise."
      Opening the show was singer/songwriter Todd Snider. Armed with only a guitar, the singer introduced "My Generation Part 2," "Vinyl Records" and "D.B. Cooper," and his stand-up comedy was sharp.
      Snider's emotional "You Think You Know Somebody," about the hidden world of child abuse, gave audience members something to chew on while awaiting their hero, Prine.

By: Christy Karras
    John Prine was his usual mellow self on Saturday night at Abravanel Hall, moving with aplomb through a long list of favorites from his considerable repertoire of clever, folksy songs. 
    Some audience members weren't quite so civil. 
    After one woman continually shouted and whistled during the concert's quietest moments, a woman seated in front of her turned around to complain. That sparked an exchange that came within inches of becoming a fistfight before the two were restrained by their companions and a dose of common sense. 
    Other than that, the concert was exactly what the sold-out crowd came to see and hear: Prine's musical prowess, and lots of it. During more than 2 1/2 hours of singing, guitar playing and cheery chatter, Prine proved he may be getting a tad older -- he is now in his mid-50s -- but he is certainly not slowing down. His voice retains all but a slim fraction of its original verve and clarity and served him well through the long night. 
    Energetic and smiling, he made sure to sing all the old favorites, including "All the Best," "That's the Way That the World Goes 'Round" and "In Spite of Ourselves" (sung as a duet with himself), while also throwing in some songs from his upcoming album. His new music sounds much like his old stuff, which should satisfy his fans by continuing his beloved style of witty lyrics mixed with soulful guitar. 
    To the delight of the crowd, Prine even resurrected his old Vietnam-era song "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven," which again seems appropriate for anyone worried about the morality of war with its lyrics: "Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore/they're already overcrowded from your dirty little war/now Jesus don't like killin', no matter what the reasons for/and your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore." 
    Portland, Ore., native Todd Snider opened with a too-short demonstration of his own talent for writing laugh-out-loud lyrics, including a song about D.B. Cooper, who jumped out of a plane with $200,000 in ill-gotten gains near Snider's hometown and disappeared. 
    "This is the true story of D.B. Cooper, as he told it to me," Snider said. In baggy pants and shirt, the goofy coffee-shop-style singer proved that his talent lies not so much in guitar playing or vocals but in storytelling and, happily, making us laugh.

By: hevymeddle
I think everyone has heard Sam Stone, at some point in their life. Souvenirs as well. If you listen to music a lot, several other Prine classics, might have crossed your path. But I never really met anyone who was a big John Prine fan. Then I became a Todd Snider fan, and he talked about John Prine so much I started to explore, to see what the noise was about. Needless to say, I became hooked on Prine's witty, insightful, escapades through real life happenings. Several years have passed and I never had the chance to see John....until last Saturday night. As good luck would have it, Todd was opening the show, and that just peaked my interest. Singers in the vein of Prine are fading fast, but Snider is fighting desperately, (though apparently easily for him), to keep it alive. Todd started the show with a too-short 1/2 hour of storytelling. It is always a bummer when Todd plays a short set because you miss so much. But when John took the stage shortly before 9, all thoughts of a short show vanished. After all of my anticipation, over 2 1/2 hours of songs and stories seemed like mere minutes to me. He was delightful, obviously in a good mood, and the sold out crowd were true fans. And on this night, as the favorites flowed from John, we were not disappointed. Prine is the type of singer, that can play for that long, and still not do everything, everyone wants to hear. But he certainly gives it a good try. I was surprised to not hear 'Grandpa was a Carpenter.' But hearing 'Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore,' was a fine surprise. John mixed a few new songs in as well. It sounds like his new album will be more of the same, both feet planted on the ground, but tongue in cheek, Prine, that we all love. The time passed so quickly that I was very surprised to find he had even played that long. I guess the old saying is true; "Time flies when you are having Fun." I certainly had fun.

John Prine
Music-industry maverick John Prine brings his sly wit to Abravanel Hall on Saturday.

OUT & ABOUT Friday, November 15, 2002


    Stone Cold Classic: Acclaimed singer/songwriter John Prine's wit and sly style are always readily apparent, whether he is doing a solo acoustic project or something more fleshed-out and rocking. A maverick who started his own label when he realized how ridiculous the music-biz establishment can be, Prine remains a classic American working-class poet. See him Saturday, at 8 p.m., at Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City. Tickets are $27 to $45 at ArtTix outlets.