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Electric Picnic 2010 - Steve Earle

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ATL | 21:08 UK time, Saturday, 4 September 2010

Crawdaddy Stage, Saturday 4th September 8.15pm

Describe in a tweet: The man who put the journey into journeyman.

What Happened: There is no easing in to this. Steve Earle gets straight to business on a battered looking acoustic with 'Copperhead Road' followed by 'The Devil's Right Hand'. It's a stark affair, just Earle and a selection of six strings and a mandolin for company. For a man formerly in possession of an open ticket to hell and back the man is still infused with bile and rage against injustice and conceit. Tony Blair doesn't get off lightly with a four letter broadside launched towards the former British PM and his involvement in the Middle East. 'Rich Man's War' is pointedly dedicated to Blair. Elsewhere in the set there is a broken tenderness on display, notably on 'Now She's Gone' and 'If I Said Goodbye'. "Same girl, different harmonica" says Earle.

Electric Dreams: For more recent converts via US TV, 'Down in the Hole', the theme tune from the Wire is given a bluesy stomp, with crowd on backing vocals. We're treated to a sneak preview of a song written for David Simon's new telly venture, set in post hurricane New Orleans. The bleak, murderous 'Billy Austin' is another high, the stripped back set-up rendering the sentiment yet further into dark territory.

Ants at a picnic: Its pretty flawless performance-wise, but the main gripe is that the only massive reaction is for the ubiquitous 'Galway Girl'. Great song, but it seems like much of the crowd feels that they have endured rather than enjoyed this performance.

EP rating: 9/10

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