Two Reverends and lots of brimstone in Louisville

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Reverend Horton Heat with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium
Louisville, KY
April 22, 2011

With one of the biggest religious holidays on the way and visions of brightly colored eggs and chocolate bunnies filling our heads, it seemed appropriate to spend the Friday before with a couple of Reverends. These particular Reverends didn’t preach sermons and pulpit platitudes of peace and harmony. Reverend Horton Heat and the opening act, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, didn’t deliver any message that you would expect in a church. However, they did deliver their songs with a fire and brimstone that revivalists would surely appreciate.

The-Reverend-Peyton.jpgThese two radicals’ “holy tabernacle” for the night was Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium, a mainstay venue in Louisville, KY for 20 years. With a devoted regular crowd waiting to turn the dance floor into a writhing mass of sweaty flesh, the evening’s performers had an early start time of 7 pm to easier accommodate the subsequent Friday night disco crowd. The blending of the two created a strange intermingling of black-clad and tattooed rockabilly fans and dressed-to-the-nines early dance club arrivals

The Reverend Peyton himself, a burly and gregarious rabble rouser, took the stage accompanied by his drummer Aaron “Cuz” Persinger and the group’s electric washboard player (and the Rev’s wife), Breezy Peyton, who cut a striking figure with her sundress and flowered hair that was in direct contrast to her onstage rage. Titular star Peyton plays with an old timey tone reminiscent of every honky-tonk stage from the 30s until present day. He strummed with urgency and a maniacal look that gave weight to the words he howled to the stars above. Playing a wide variety of tunes over their 45-minute opening set, tempos ranged wildly from moment to moment. A crowd participatory number, “Clap Your Hands,” showcased the ease that Peyton has as a front man and foretold big things for the bands future.

Clearing one trio to make way for another, the similarities between the Reverends were few. Since his first blast of guitar fury hit the airwaves, The Reverend Horton Heat has held a spot in the pantheon of guitarists.

The-Reverend-Horton-Heat-2.jpgJames Heath, Horton Heat’s given name, blends aggressive Southern Californian surf guitar speed with a long, lonesome Texas sound. He has penned over 100 songs that range from pedal-to-metal explosion to tango, songs that have touched on every possible permutation along the way. Years ago Heat was asked to describe their sound. He replied, “it’s Psychobilly Freakout!”

Boasting a near unconscious mastery of his sound and instrument, Heat sings and plays with an wry smile that comes from decades spent on every type of stage and in front of every type of crowd.

Backing Heat was his long time beloved bassist, Jimbo Wallace, whose vigor and skill on the standup nearly took a back seat to his smiling stage persona. His energetic whirling dervish style of play is the perfect complement to the Reverend’s more laid back presence.  Rounding out the band, drummer Paul Simmons brought the thunder. He is sharp as a tack with a trick bag full of nasty fills to drive any song into a high speed overdrive; Simmons is the final piece of a very idiosyncratic puzzle.

A packed crowd let out an uproarious cheer as the three took the stage. The hush that followed was quickly broken by the rumbling percussive blend of the show’s opener, “Marijuana,” a showcase for the long soaring notes that Heat used to counterpoint his lightning fast finger work. The crowd whooped their approval.

The-Revernend-Horton-Heat.jpgAnnouncing a vaguely chronological theme to the night’s festivities, they then went through “Baby You Know Who,” “Lonesome Train Whistle” (a tune that evoked the songwriting of band inspiration Johnny Cash) and “Nurture My Pig,” a devious double entendre made more appealing through its sheer musical weight.

The trio then broke into their second disc favorites: “The Devil’s Chasing Me,” “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin” and “Fucked up Ford,” the latter of which brought the signature mix of skillful playing and tongue-in-cheek lyrical silliness that sets them apart.

Following a set of tunes form the latest record, Laughin’ and Cryin’, including the instant classic “No Saguaros in Texas,” the band returned to the album by album rotation. “Jimbo Song” spot-lit Wallace and his bottom register heroics. “Psychobilly Freakout” closed out the pre-encore Louisville festivities. Though diehard fans had sang along and rocked out to every tune, “Freakout” saw a significant amplification of both volume and insanity as fierce pogo dancing, head banging and mayhem erupted. The greatness of the song is that it does what so few things do these days: it not only talks the talk, it walks the walk.

While the band took a well-earned pause, the roar and pleadings grew to nearly intolerable levels. Upon retaking the stage, the trio tore into the rags-to-riches tale “Bales of Cocaine.” The band’s raw energy emitted in waves as the whirling, pulsing mass of humanity danced as though they were puppets.

Closing the evening with “Big Red Rocket of Love,” the Reverend Heat paid direct homage to his purest inspiration, The Man in Black, Mr. Johnny Cash, placing a faithful yet fiery cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” in the middle of “Rocket.” In so doing, he sandwiched his sound with that of his spiritual sonic inspiration.

Having long shed his dapper suit jacket, the guitar maestro smiled a broad grin, sweat brimming on his brow.  Even with thousands of shows under his belt, the appreciation shone in his eyes as the fans howled their thanks and begged for more.

For more photos from this show, log on to Rex-A-Vision

 

 

Reverend Horton Heat Setlist

Marijuana, Baby, You Know Who, Lonesome train Whistle, Nuture My Pig, The Devil’s Chasin’ Me, Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’, 5-0 Ford, Martini Time, Ain’t No Saguaros In Texas, Drinkin’ and Smokin’, Baby To The Liquor Store, Death Metal Guys, Jimbo Song, Spend A Night In The Box, Galaxy 500, Callin’ In Twisted, Indigo Friends, Psychobilly Freakout

Encore: Toothbrush, Bales of Cocaine, Big Red Rocket (Of Love)>Folsom Prison Blues>Big Red Rocket (Of Love)

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