James McMurtry

Live in Europe (Lightning Rod)

Texas Platters

James McMurtry

Live in Europe (Lightning Rod)

Documenting his first tour of the UK, James McMurtry cut Live in Europe specifically as a collector's edition LP/DVD. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions of the vinyl format – roughly 42 minutes – that equals a significantly truncated set. Wrapping up at about half the running time of the local troubadour's 2004 breakthrough, Live in Aught-Three, this collection lacks the political bite that pierced his more recent output, focusing instead on the character sketches from last year's Just Us Kids, most notably the title cut and acoustic "Ruby and Carlos." Guest pianist Ian McLagan is a welcomed addition throughout, adding a mellow organ bed to the exquisite "You'd a' Thought (Leonard Cohen Must Die)" and spiking the vitriolic "Freeway View" with jump-boogie piano that burns out on Highway 61. The saving grace is the accompanying 40-minute DVD, filmed at the intimate Paradiso in Amsterdam. "Now we're going to play all the hits," McMurtry states with his best poker face, then bares teeth in a vicious 10-minute version of "Choctaw Bingo" that goes off like Dylan at Royal Albert Hall, not unlike the economical blues of "We Can't Make It Here." Tour opener Jon Dee Graham adds further fuel to the fire with "Laredo," his chimney smoke delivery complementing McMurtry's charred baritone like black on gray. For that alone Live in Europe is a must-have for serious fans, but locals are better off taking the advice McMurtry offers before token closer "Too Long in the Wasteland": "If you should find yourself in Austin, Texas, on a Wednesday night, we're usually at the Continental Club. Come see us."


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More James McMurtry
These Things I've Come to Know
These Things I've Come to Know
A week in the life of James McMurtry

Jim Caligiuri, Feb. 13, 2015

<i>Complicated Game</i> Record Review
Complicated Game Record Review

Doug Freeman, Feb. 13, 2015

More Music Reviews
Faster Than Sound: SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
Virtual festival forecasts incoming local debuts and tentative fall touring.

Rachel Rascoe, March 26, 2021

Faster Than Sound: Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Nostalgic livestream and rising Austin talent fundraise for the Austin Parks Foundation.

Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 16, 2020

More by Austin Powell
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re playing

July 31, 2020

Record Review: The Young
Record Review: The Young

Aug. 22, 2014


James McMurtry

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle