Concert Review: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit (June 6, 2015)

July 20, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

ARTISTS:  Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

VENUE:  Pisgah Brewing - Black Mountain, NC

DATE:  June 6, 2015

Review By:  Carol Spagnuola

Photos By:  David J. Simchock

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 2015-06-06 (Pisgah Brewing)Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 2015-06-06 (Pisgah Brewing)© Copyright David J. Simchock There is always a special feeling you get when you see a show at Pisgah Brewery.  Whether its that backyard venue ambience with tasty beer or scenic mountain views from a far, you cant help but enter with a sense of happiness.  The thought of seeing Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit had me smiling prematurely for weeks and I was super excited at the thought of seeing the newlywed love between he and his pregnant wife, Amanda Shires.  I was not disappointed, as I am a romantic myself. Their genuine looks to each other was heart warming.  The place filled up with loyal fans while the sun set in and the band took the stage, including Amanda Shires, whom is not only a beautiful fiddle player but has a sweet round belly with a voice that fills the air with joy.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Units latest Album Southeastern is remarkable -- my favorite Isbell effort yet, that is until their newest album Something More than free gets released this month.  Southeastern is mainly about Jasons struggle with addiction and he played most of its songs, including Cover Me Up. Here, he spoke about separating himself and Amanda to either sides of the house until they both wrote a song, then they would collaborate with each other to complete it.

Put your faith to the test

when I tore off your dress

In Richmond all high


I sobered up

and I swore off that stuff

forever this time


and the crowd cheered in support of it.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 2015-06-06 (Pisgah Brewing)Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 2015-06-06 (Pisgah Brewing)© Copyright David J. Simchock

If you have listened to Jason Isbell at all, you would know what an incredible writer he is and how is songs always have a deep-routed meaning.  He played Dress Blues which is a composition that he wrote about a Marine from his home town who died in the Iraq war.  Elephant,  another selection from Southeastern is equally close to home for Isbell and for many others.  Anyone who has lost a loved on to cancer can connect with its sadness.  Isbell wrote this song about a loved one he lost to cancer before he and Amanda were living together and said this one is a tough one for him to get through at times.  It is the truth -- when you just want to ignore that elephant, the inevitable still exists.

When she was drunk she made cancer jokes,
she made up her own doctor's notes,
surrounded by her family, I saw that she was dying alone.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 2015-06-06 (Pisgah Brewing)Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 2015-06-06 (Pisgah Brewing)© Copyright David J. Simchock On a more upbeat note, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit performed most of the songs of Southestern, as well as a few favorites from his days with the Drive By Truckers. And, there was a sweet moment between he and his wife covering Warren Zevons Mutineer.  24 Frames and Something More than Free were new songs off the latest unreleased album Something More than Free giving us a taste of things to come.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit ended the night with Never Gonna Change which had fists in the air and bodies moving.

We ain't never gonna change

We ain't doin' nothin' wrong

We ain't never gonna change

So, shut your mouth and play along

Isbells visit to Black Mountain was truly a moving experience; some moments you listened and swayed, and some moments you danced and sang.  With Jasons sobriety and clarity, you cant help but enjoy each lyric for what it is.  




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