The latest installment of “Early Shows for Old People” at The Basement brought John Doe to town for a Thursday night 7pm show. Doe, one of the driving forces behind LA punk pioneers, X, was on the last night of a two-week solo tour. After a short set by local Jon Latham, the room gradually filled to a respectable near-capacity of about 100.
Dressing in his familiar cow-punk style, Doe has an iconic look with features that have aged gracefully. However, I can’t say that about the crowd of former X fans. With the band’s salad days now some 40 years ago, the look of this nostalgic audience has not done as well over time. Most of us have gained pounds, lost hair and could care less these days about how hip-looking we were dressed.
Throughout his career, Doe has never been shy to reveal his love for roots music which was prominently presented this evening. My first exposure to this side of Doe was at a 1987 show in Dallas with X opening for Warren Zevon. When the power went out for a short spell, Doe responded by leading the band through an acoustic cover of Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings,” a song he would also play tonight in honor of a request.
While keeping the edge that made him a dynamic front man behind the raw power of X, Doe presents a strong but intimate presence when it’s just him and his guitar.
Throughout his set, Doe remarked about being under pressure to wrap things up before the 9pm “rock band” show. Our loss however was just a few songs left out of his usual set. And, while he spoke of needing to limit his banter, he nonetheless found it hard to remain quiet between songs when the mood struck.
His request for requests comically didn’t reveal anything that he said wasn’t already on the set list. The night turned out to be a great collection of X classics, selections from his solo records and some eclectic covers. I never could have imagined that I would someday hear a live performance of “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.”
Leaving the venue, I realized that John Doe belongs in Nashville. Outside of co-writing opportunities, I could see John playing a residency at The 5 Spot, singing in the round at the Bluebird and guesting on a classic album with The Long Players. If you’re listening John, you’re our kind of guy, and I know a good realtor!
- The Losing Kind
- Painting the Town Blue (X song)
- Alone in Arizona (Exene Cervenka cover)
- Get on Board
- The Have Nots (X song)
- A Cased of You (Joni Mitchell cover)
- Lucky Penny
- Drink of Water
- There’s a Hole
- It’s Only Love (Hank Cochran cover)
- The Big Rock Candy Mountain (Harry McClintock cover)
- Burning House of Love (X song)
- Twin Brother
- My Darling, Blue Skies
- The New World (X song)
- The Golden State
- Silver Wings (Merle Haggard cover)
- The Call of the Wrecking Ball (The Knitters song)
John Doe—Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitar