Last weekend Old Crow Medicine Show stopped in Knoxville to play two shows at the Tennessee Theatre. Saturday night’s show sold out while Sunday’s must have come close. Fans who attended the shows witnessed vintage Old Crow with their excellent musicianship and high octane stage presence.
I have to give a tip of the hat to opener Margo Price (and the Pricetags). I’ve seen Margo a number of times over the past few years – on the Blue Plate Special, at Boyd’s Jig and Reel. Each time she’s gotten better. Her confidence, both in terms of comfort on stage and vocally have gotten noticeably stronger.
Her performance at the Tennessee Theatre is one of the best opening-slot performances I’ve ever seen. She had the crowd completely engaged almost from the beginning with her personal brand of country music. By the time she sang Gram Parson’s “Ooh Las Vegas,” most notably covered by Emmylou Harris, she could have been channeling a young Emmylou. Brilliant.
Old Crow came onto the stage with panache, immediately launching into well known songs before diverging into more recent material from “Remedy,” their 2014 Grammy Award winning album. “Tell It to Me,” and “Take em Away,” two of my favorites came early, but the focus of the night seemed more on the high-energy numbers and the crowd loved it.
With the band assuming a wide range of configurations all over the stage and spinning their amusing antics in every direction, it was a fun show. Judging from the screams, yells and general bedlam in the audience, it was a feeling shared widely. The river of beer flowing beneath my feet indicated the general craziness of the crowd.
As lighthearted as the band acts on stage, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the songs are very solid and often serious. With themes ranging from the Vietnam War to poverty and the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., their catalog could portend a somber evening in concert, but that’s certainly not the case. They keep it moving.
Of course, there’s only one direction an Old Crow show is heading, only one destination, one culminating moment: they sang the song banned in most bars across America. The crowd didn’t seem to have gotten the memo that “Wagon Wheel,” has been played beyond oblivion. The version last weekend was approximately three hours long as the crowd sang numerous rounds with the band. It was great fun.
I’ll have more photographs later in the weekend on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook Page, but for now I’ll leave you with a video of Old Crow Medicine Show’s, “Take Em Away,” easily one my favorites by the band.