After a thorough warm-up with some faster paced numbers, including a lively rendition of Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak,” the lights dimmed, Isbell swapped guitars to play the smoky blues number, “Hurricanes and Hand Grenades,” an ode to “drinking and playing and feeling like hell.”
Putting down the guitar and moving to the electric piano for “Chicago Promenade,” the bouncy ode to his grandfather, Isbell jibed himself as he asked for more light over the keys, “a real piano player wouldn’t need it, but I do.”
The floor of the Troubadour was almost packed by the time Isbell and the 400 Unit, his supporting band, broke into a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.” After a 10-minute cigarette break, Isbell returned solo to the stage and performed a couple of acoustic songs before bringing the band back on to play “Goddamn Lonely Love.”
When everyone left the stage again, the clapping hands refused to abate, and feminine yells pierced the din to demand more. The band returned and began playing the staccato rhythm of “Dank/Manuel,” a tribute to the late members of the Band. The night’s final number was “Outfit,” a melodious cautionary waltz from the Truckers’ 2003 Decoration Day.