Old 97’s show review by David Welsh
Sunday, June 26th • Fort Worth Botanic Gardens
Having seen the boys burn down countless niteclubs since we first saw them in Dallas’ Gypsy Tea Room during the 1997 tour behind Too Far To Care, my party of four diehard fans was simultaneously jazzed and jittery. After all, it was a very large outdoor stage in the midst of a record-breaking Texas heat wave in front of several thousand people. And many of those in attendance would be there more for the outdoor-picnic-and-fireworks family-fun atmosphere rather than the experience of irradiation by the musical meltdown that is a 97‘s rock show.
We did have to drag our cooler through an unsettling number of strollers and walkers, but we felt better by the time we made our way to our table near the front of the stage. At least we began sighting the occasional Old 97’s t-shirt and the number of toddlers seemed to drop off. Better yet, there was Murry talking to old classmates from his alma mater in Boyd, Texas—while Ken stood off to the side chatting with fans about the upcoming release of TGTV2. Several cold beverages helped pass the time.
By the time the boys took to the stage shortly before 9:00 PM, the sun was setting and the air was slightly less sweltering. After Murry’s cheery “Hello, everybody!”, the band ignited “The Grand Theatre” and for the next 70 minutes never looked back. The venue’s constraints (fireworks at 10:15) dictated a setlist (see below) shorter than the usual club show. Nearly half the songs were from TGTV1&2, which was just fine for this reviewer.
“Please Hold On” is an incredible showstopper live, and Murry’s rousing “White Port” was an instantly rollicking crowd-pleaser even for those hearing it for the first time ever. Rhett’s reworking of Murry’s “Brown-Haired Daughter” shows just why these two long-time collaborators are the Lennon-McCartney of the Lone Star State. Ken’s tremolo on “Lonely Holiday” positively shimmered, while his honky-tonk licks on the perennial “Question” completely reinvented the usual Rhett solo take. In honor of the literal sunset, we got the lyrical “Sunset”; Murry dedicated “W TX Teardrops”’ to the afore-mentioned high school classmates. And secret-weapon Philip kept the backbeat steady and relentless while sporting a new moustache.
The sound quality was absolutely impeccable and the guys were clearly having a whale of a good time. After twenty years of performing together, it’s astonishing to witness yet another performance every bit as explosive and incendiary as long-time fans have come to expect. It’s hard to know what the general crowd thought. There was not much vocalizing in our section (although my party sang its collective brains out), and no one even stood until near the very end! But for those pilgrims visiting one more time the Temple of Old 97’s, the fireworks illuminating the night sky as the band left the stage were but a pale imitation of the pyrotechnics we had just witnessed. Goodnight everybody!
1. The Grand Theatre
2. A State of Texas
3. She Loves the Sunset
4. Lonely Holiday
5. W TX Teardrops
6. Brown-Haired Daughter
7. Please Hold On While The Train Is Moving
10. Champaign, Illinois
12. White Port
13. Every Night Is Friday Night
14. House That Used To Be
15. Big Brown Eyes
16. Dance With Me