LIVE: “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” 50th Anniversary Tour @ The Egg, 9/17&18/18 (Take Two)

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Marty Stuart and Chris Hillman

Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Does it make me less of a man that I nearly cried at the opening chime of “My Back Pages?” I think not. Does it make me less of a fan that I didn’t even care about the songs they didn’t get to? No, it doesn’t. Does it make me amazed to realize just how important this music has been in my life? Yes, it kind of does.

To describe The Byrds’ concerts at The Egg’s Hart Theatre on Monday and Tuesday of last week can be done in one word …

Amazing.

The Byrds, you say? Oh, shut up, it was The Byrds. When you have Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman together on stage, accompanied by Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, it’s The Byrds, no matter what it says on the contract.

The combo (featuring killer sidemen Chris Scruggs, Kenny Vaughan and handsome Harry Stinson) was in Albany, ostensibly, to assay Sweetheart of the Rodeo on its 50th anniversary. Yes, they played all the tunes from the landmark disc, which is credited with creating country rock, but they didn’t play them in order. They also heaped on other classics and, evidently, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Hillman play bass on “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Oh, now The Byrds purists are really freaking out because Hillman didn’t play on the recording! That’s the point, he did at The Egg, and it was sheer, unfettered glory.

Was the show nostalgic? Good Lord, the scripted Las Vegas tripe trotted out between songs wasn’t even embarrassing. It was just stupid. Not to mention the bookending two-fer of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

But as soon as pick hit string, any imaginary transgressions were forgiven. The music itself sounded so alive, so magical, so now. Simple songs sung in harmony, with all the good sauce of McGuinn’s eternal twelve-string and Stuart’s insane Clarence White picking (on Clarence’s guitar no less).

Scruggs popped over to pedal steel for most of the Sweetheart stuff, bringing Lloyd Green to staples like “Hickory Wind,” “One Hundred Years From Now” and “Nothing Was Delivered.” For God’s sake …

Amazing.

If you didn’t love it, you were dead. If you loved it as much as everyone else in the room, you might have died.

The encore set was poignant, with members sharing memories of The Byrds’ spiritual heir Tom Petty. Songs, too. Hillman’s take on “Wildflowers” (Petty’s last production gig was Hillman’s Bidin’ My Time) was especially poignant, while Stuart tore up that mandolin on “Running Down a Dream.”

I may have mentioned this …

Amazing.

“SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO” 50th ANNIVERSARY TOUR SET LIST
My Back Pages (Bob Dylan)
A Satisfied Mind (Joe Hayes)
Mr. Spaceman (The Byrds)
Time Between (The Byrds)
Old John Robertson (The Byrds)
Wasn’t Born to Follow (Carole King)
Sing Me Back Home (Merle Haggard)
Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man (The Byrds)
Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan)
Country Boy Rock & Roll (Marty Stuart)
Time Don’t Wait (Marty Stuart)
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan & The Band)
Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie)
Hickory Wind (The Byrds)
Life in Prison (Merle Haggard)
One Hundred Years From Now (The Byrds)
Nothing Was Delivered (Bob Dylan & The Band)
Blue Canadian Rockies (Gene Autry)
The Christian Life (The Louvin Brothers)
You’re Still on My Mind (Luke McDaniel)
You Don’t Miss Your Water (William Bell)
I Am a Pilgrim (traditional)
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan & The Band)
ENCORES
American Girl (Tom Petty)
Wildflowers (Tom Petty)
Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty)
So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star (The Byrds)
Turn! Turn! Turn! (Pete Seeger)

ALSO READ:
LIVE: “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” 50th Anniversary Tour @ The Egg, 9/18/18

Kenny Vaughan
Chris Scruggs and Harry Stinson
Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Roger McGuinn, Marty Stuart and Kenny Vaughan
Roger McGuinn, Marty Stuart and Kenny Vaughan
4 Comments
  1. B says

    Amazing Agreed! Nice review

  2. Georgia says

    This was the most spetacular concert! We wish we had went both nights! Thank you The Egg for bringing this concert to Albany!

  3. Patrick Murphy says

    Great show. Marty Stuart just amazed me with his playing and Roger and Chris just rocked with the Byrds tunes.

  4. Richard Brody says

    great photos as always Andrzej and a fine review by Mr. Bokonon. I was looking forward to a great night of nostalgia, being one of the oldies who bought Sweetheart when it came out. While I didn’t have tears during “My Back Pages”, I did get the first shivers of the evening that was followed by a huge smile with “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”. What put the evening way over the top for me was Marty Stuart and the Superlatives. Their instrumental versatility and singing were outstanding all night long. They received the loudest standing ovation of the evening for their rendition of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. Mr. Lesser – please bring back Marty Stuart and band ASAP.

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