“nobody tells me what to do” - Justin Townes Earle’s pithy putdown to one heckler shows exactly who owns the stage.
Not that there was any doubt of that. His 90-minute set at Sheffield City Hall of brooding Texan blues left no question he really is the master of his craft.
Of course, having Steve Earle as your dad and being named after legendary country singer Townes Van Zandt, he has a lot to live up to.
But Earle Junior takes his impressive musical pedigree and proves he’s his own top dog - taking good ol’ fashioned bluegrass and blending it with his own edgy sound.
He kicked off with Move Over Mama from his new album Harlem River Blues and an impressive rendiion of They Killed John Henry before taking us on a tour of tracks old and new.
On stage Earle’s manner is graceful and easy-going, trading quips and experiences with the audience with a cheeky, knowing grin.
From his relationships with women (his mum included) to experiencing drugs from an early age, his music has a real story to tell.
One of the standout tracks was Mama’s Eyes - a song he said he wrote to “set the record straight”. And while he may have his mama’s eyes and smile, there’s no doubt he has his daddy’s outspoken spirit.
Plenty of people came to see Justin that night on the back of being Steve Earle fans, but left full of respect and admiration for someone who makes being an Earle his own.
by Chantal Spittles