By Chuck Cox
I’ve started writing this review about six times now. Write a sentence or two. Highlight. Delete. Repeat.
There’s just no way I can properly tell you how absolutely incredible Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ was on Monday night without coming right out and saying it. Incredible. Awesome. Bad ass — none of those adjectives even seem to really sum it up properly.
Playing the extremely intimate Cambridge Room at House of Blues, the Atlanta quartet just killed it from the word go for the couple of hundred people who were lucky enough to witness the show. And even after a two-hour, 11-minute set, the only millisecond of disappointment I felt was when the band’s original charismatic lead singer, Kevn Kinney, told the crowd “goodnight” and left the stage.
The only Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ song I was really familiar with heading into the show was the band’s 1989 hit “Fly Me Courageous.” I had some extremely vague knowledge of one or two more of the band’s tunes, but for the most part I was learning the songs as the show unfolded.
And what an incredible treat it was. The band sounded absolutely tight and amazing with its brand of guitar-driven rock, turning a few songs into extended jams. That’s something I’m not always a huge fan of, but Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ did it to absolute perfection. There simply was not one false note the entire night. Most notably was a song of one of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s four recent EPs, “Turn,” and “Honeysuckle Blue,” which had a little “Hey Jude” mixed in at the end.
Kinney said that even though the band has played Billy Bob’s fairly recently, he estimated it had been 20 years since the last Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ gig in Dallas. It was long overdue. The show also came just days after former guitarist Buren Fowler died at 54. The band played two songs for Fowler — “When You Come Back” and “Madman Blues,” but it was clear Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ had no intentions of wallowing in sorrow.
Guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan, who joined the band in December, sang a couple of outstanding songs from his solo album before Kinney came back out and brought the show home with a vengeance. The band did its two biggest songs — “Fly Me Courageous” and “Rush Hour” toward the middle of the show, but it still had the crowd in the palm of its hands all the way through.
The encore included an incredible version of “A Good Country Mile,” a Kinney solo song, “Straight to Hell,” and “Blues On Top of Blues.” My buddy Stuart and I also got to hang out and meet the guys after the show. Nicest dudes you could ever meet — absolutely gracious and accommodating.
Even though it added a cool element to the show, it was an absolute crime Monday’s show wasn’t in the main room at House of Blues. Without a doubt, I’ve got an early front-runner for 2014 show of the year. And it’s going to be very, very hard to top. What makes it even more amazing is it was kind of a “Why not?” show for me. When it was all said and done, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ had itself a new fan for life.
Openers The Black Cadillacs also did an outstanding job. The Knoxville, Tennessee, band played a good, tight set to get the crowd warmed up. Both Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and The Black Cadillacs will be at South by Southwest, in Austin, this week.