High Octane Country Rock
by Miles Overn
The sold-out crowd at the SOEC in Penticton was visibly excited. Ear-to-ear grins were pasted on faces throughout the arena as they waited for one of country music’s hottest duos in years to hit the stage. As the stage crew finished tuning instruments and checking amps and monitors, fans alternated between talking with each other and stealing glances at the full arena width platform that the Brothers Osborne would soon appear on to launch into their show.
As the house lights went down, the roar went up. With his Gibson electric hung over his shoulder TJ Osborne strode up to the mic, welcomed the crowd, and then headed straight into “Shoot Me Straight,” the first of three back-to-back songs from their Port Saint Joe album released earlier this year. This band let it be known from the opening chords that they were here to play.
The Brothers Osborne kept the energy way up as they followed their opening song with “I Don’t Remember Me Before You” and “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” from the afore mentioned current release. It felt like the band kept it at full throttle all the way through to their 3-song acoustic breakdown halfway through the main concert. However, there was some kind of performance magic going on with numerous very tasty solos being played that, although muscular and technically impressive, seemed to broaden the impact of the tunes as they flew by.
“Greener Pastures,” “Burning Man,” and “Rum” completed that first up tempo part of the concert. With an eerily perfect sense of pacing, the band stripped it down to acoustic instruments and ran through “Tequila Again,” “21 Summer,” and an evocative version of the Steve Earle classic “Copperhead Road.” This mini concert within a concert was beautifully conceived and masterfully executed.
This is the Brothers Osborne so they picked up their electric guitars again and powered into “Drank Like Hank,” another track from their new album. Next up was perhaps their biggest hit to date, “Stay A Little Longer” and the crowd loved it. It’s a great tune, and the audience was singing along all the way through.
The main set ended with a massively extended version of their “It Ain’t My Fault” that included a near 10 minute guitar solo from John Osborne that can best be described as exquisite. There are a handful of players on the planet that can pull off that long a solo without losing the crowd. Osborne took them on a journey that encompassed a variety of guitar techniques but never, and I mean never, lost sight of the song. It was literally stunning as each direction change was enough to pull the audience along with him until landing them safely at the end with no one really sure what had just happened.
It was the perfect touch for the song to end with TJ’s electric laying on the floor of the stage, feedback screeching through the monitors and speakers, while the lights went out and the band headed off stage.
The crowd stood and cheered for a solid 3 minutes before the guys retook the stage and wound their way through a 4-song encore that opened with “Down Home” and included “A Couple Wrongs Makin’ It Alright.
This was country rock at its very best. Red hot band, incredibly good soloing, great tunes and tons of energy and soul. Impossible to categorize, but perhaps Neo Southern Country Rock. The sound was excellent and the lighting was incredible. I simply can’t recall attending a better country rock concert. Full Stop. Period.