LIVE: The Outlaws @ Alive at Five, 6/29/17
Review and photographs by Ed Conway
It’s been eight years since the Outlaws last brought their Guitar Army to Alive at Five. In 2009, they were a last-minute replacement for the Marshall Tucker Band. This time, however, they were there on their own right.
Somewhat overshadowed by other southern rock luminaries as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, the Outlaws have carved out a sweet spot of their own. Known for their hard-driving guitar attack, the current incarnation carries on the traditions envisioned by long time members, lead vocalist/guitarist (and Kingston native) Henry Paul and drummer Monte Yoho.
Rather than doing what seems to be the norm of older bands bringing in young guns to replace members as they have left, the Outlaws have used a bevy of long time musicians who come from bands that were in the circle of southern rockers during their heyday. And these mature musicians showed that it isn’t just the young’uns that can rock.
Dual lead guitarists Chris Anderson and Steve Grissom have had a couple of stints with the band dating back to the ’80s. Keyboardist Dave Robbins and bassist Randy Threet rounded out the current line-up when the band reformed in 2005.
The Alive at Five show had plenty of nostalgia for the longtime fan, and judging by the large crowd at Jennings Landing, there were plenty of those. They started the show with “There Goes Another Love Song” from their 1975 album Outlaws. In fact, this album was very well represented throughout the show with “Song in the Breeze,” “Waterhole,” “Knoxville Girl” and, of course, the closing “Green Grass and High Tides.”
In fact, the only three songs not released in the ’70s were “Born to Be Bad,” the title track from 2012’s It’s All About Pride and “Trail Of Tears” from the, I don’t believe it’s ever been released, album Once an Outlaw, recorded in 2007, just prior to the death of original member Hughie Thomasson.
The moniker Guitar Army is well deserved as the twin lead guitar attack of Anderson and Grissom kept up a blistering pace as they traded solos throughout the evening. As if two lead guitars and a rhythm guitar weren’t enough, they even enlisted guitarslinger Jim Fish (formerly of the ’70s Local 518 faves Silver Chicken) to close out the set.
My only disappointment, if you can call it that, was they ran out of time before getting into “Ghost Riders.” Although it is an old time classic, their version was uniquely theirs. It was one of my biggest influences playing guitar.
Opening the show was the trio the Steppin Stones out of Nashville, who have been opening for the Outlaws on their current tour. Led by barely-20-year-old Hannah Wickland on vocals and lead guitar, along with Houston Mathews (drums) and Egan Miller (bass), they ran through an enjoyable set of covers and originals that went well with the theme of the night. Wickland was stunning on guitar, especially for someone so young, and her vocals were equally fitting for her hard-driving style.
THE OUTLAWS SET LIST
There Goes Another Love Song
Born to Be Bad
Song in the Breeze
Grey Ghost (Henry Paul Band)
Trail of Tears
It’s All About Pride
Waterhole (with Jim Fish)
Knoxville Girl (with Jim Fish)
Green Grass and High Tides (with Jim Fish)