John Hiatt at Babeville

It was a busy weekend, with a baseball game Friday night, Captain America on Saturday(deserving of it’s own post), a trip to Rochester for a great Mother’s Day brunch with the family, and to top it off, seeing the amazing John Hiatt last night.

Hiatt played a solo acoustic show at Asbury Hall in Babeville, named after Buffalo’s original fabulous babe, Ani Difranco.  Ani spearheaded and I believe funded the restoration of a a beautiful old church and turned it into a wonderful concert venue.  They book some great shows there.  I have seen Iron & Wine, Richard Thompson, and The Dave Rawlings Machine in this venue previously.  All fantastic shows.

This is the sixth time I’ve seen Hiatt over the last fifteen years or so.  The last two times he was with Lyell Lovett at UB.  I caught a full band show at the casino a few years back.  The other two times he was solo but also brought keyboards with him.  This time, it was completely stripped down, with only his three guitars, his harmonica, and his distinctive voice, which has not diminished one bit.

John Hiatt has a wicked sense of humor but last night, he was all business.  There was surprisingly little banter between songs.  At one point, he did say that he knows it’s Sunday night and he wanted to get people home at a reasonable time. This seems like a good time to mention how much I dislike going to shows on Sunday nights.  By 8:00 on a Sunday night, I’m usually on the couch and wondering where my weekend went.There’s a very short list of artists that I’ll go see on a Sunday night.  Hiatt is near the top of that list.

Hiatt kicked the show off with Lift Up Every Stone, a great, upbeat tune from my favorite album of his, Crossing Muddy Waters.  He would play the great title track later in the show but those were the only two songs he played from that 2000 release.

Other highlights for me were Marlene(a big hit with the Missus), a rollicking Cry Love, and Like a Freight Train, which may be the best song Hiatt has released in quite a while. If I could write like this, I could die happy!

Got the ring my sister gave me
Said it was my mom’s
The day she died of cancer
I stole her morphine and gone
Oh, I lived like a lion in Nashville
For a couple more years
I used to roll through here like a freight train
But I slipped my gears
The show was not sold out.  I would estimate maybe 250-300 people were there.  I’m not sure if this was because it was a Sunday night show on Mother’s Day, or if Hiatt’s popularity is waning a bit.  I remember seeing him at a much larger venue about ten years ago and the crowd was twice as large.  It could also be that his audience is aging and he has not brought in many younger fans lately.  I can safely say that the Missus and I were two of the youngest people there and although the Missus is ageless,  I’m staring down, cough,  50 this year.
Here is the man himself, with a full band version of Cry Love.
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