Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Mercy Lounge, Nashville, TN- 8/24
No one could ask for more bang for the buck rock and roll than Sons of Roswell, Centromatic and Jason Isbell and his new band the 400 Unit. After the Sons of Roswell flagrantly attacked the crowd with a short set of voluminous southern style rock, Centro-matic took the stage with an extra member. As if to warm up for his set, Isbell joined Will Johnson and crew for most of the dreamy Centro-matic set.
There is no doubt the same rowdy grit and fire resides in Isbell since leaving the Drive-by Truckers. As he and the 400 Unit took the stage, with a friendly demeanor he demanded some whiskey be brought to the stage. They proceeded to fall into “Grown” off the recent release Sirens of the Ditch. Then he provided reassurance to the Trucker fans at heart when Jason played “God Damn Lonely Love” a song he penned during his time with the group.
The new material translated extremely well to the live setting, with the punk attitude of “Try” electrifying the room with exorbitant energy. “Chicago Promenade” then found Isbell more refined and showcasing his talents tickling the keys. The 400 unit is made up of Muscle Shoals musicians, and they are all very talented players, while the fiddle of Amanda Shires accompanied the band the whole evening and added an interesting element to a raunchy cover of “Psycho Killer.”
As the night continued, songs like “In a Razor Town” and “Brad New Kind Of Actress” elicited excitement for what the songsmith would continue to bring. Meanwhile, old favorites’ like “Decoration Day” and the Patterson Hood tune “The Assassin” displayed a reverence for the musical history created by the Drive By Truckers. All is all, Isbell certainly has perpetuated his personal legacy as a troubadour of southern lives, lies and lullabies, vividly painting pictures with his words, at times making the show seem more like a movie than a concert.