I’ve seen John Hiatt live on a number of occasions in Dublin, the last time being an acoustic set with Lyle Lovett, and he has never put in a bad show. This though was one of the more vital and electric shows. It was the last gig of a four week European tour which made Hiatt comment that they were feeling somewhat “giddy” but couldn’t think of a better place to finish in than Dublin. His current band rejoices in the moniker of The Combo and includes bassist Patrick O Hearn, longtime drummer Kenneth Blevins and for this tour making his Irish Hiatt debut, following in the strings of many a noted guitarist, Doug Lancio. Lancio may be the best one yet. Playing a variety of guitars and mandolin he had no trouble in adding to the nuances and tones of Hiatt’s memorable songs. With a few selections from his latest album, including the title The Open Road, it was largely a case of delivering some classic Hiatt from through the years. Opening with a full force Perfectly Good Guitar he played a 20 song two hour set that included Just Like Your Dad Did, Master of Disaster - dedicated to his friend and former producer the late Jim Dickinson, Thing Called Love which was dedicated to Bonnie Riatt who Hiatt said helped him get recognition as a writer when she covered the song. Other songs coming from across his multi-album catalog were Alone In The Dark, Real Fine Love, Slow Turning, Drive South and the set closer an extended and robust ‘running down the road’ version of Tennessee Plates. The audience who were largely of Hiatt’s vintage and were obviously long-time fans who loved every minute of the show. There were some slower songs were Lancio switched to mandolin and Hiatt to a blond Gibson that included Cry Love. On other songs he also played a Telecaster adding to the overall sense of fusion in the air. He played my favourite song too - Icy Blue Heart - a classic of failed relationships. Throughout Hiatt was in good form with between songs talk of his mild disappointment with the iPad. He reckoned it should have be a $30 full body suit that messed with all the senses. As is the norm in the live situation the band stretched and extended the songs on several occasions allowing Lancio to shine and show what a versitile player he is. No the more so than on the two song encore of Have A Little Faith and the lengthy guitar-driven pure energy of Riding With The King from the 1983 album of that name. Hiatt has been making great music for a long time. He still is. This night was just more proof of that.
Review: Steve Rapid Photography: Ronnie Norton