Sometimes an article needs time to simmer. Seeing Ian Noe at his CD release, processing what we experienced and turning that into an article has taken me a few days. It was one of those nights that will be talked about for years to come.
I made a Facebook post on my personal page before the show that accurately described how the night felt. “Good morning to all the good people!! Today is the day we get to send off our next star out into the world! Come to The Burl and be a part of history with Ian Noe tonight!!” I often call The Burl our Mother Church. While the Burl was never an actual church like the Ryman in Nashville was, it does feature a lovely stained glass above the stage and it’s hosted what has felt like several religious experiences over the years. I mean, just look at the scene before the show.
Now I’m not slighting Daisy Helmuth or Devon Gilfillian, both were fantastic, but this article will mainly focus on Ian and his night.
First up on the night was Daisy Helmuth. Daisy is another of the incredibly talented teenagers that we have in Central Kentucky. While she usually fronts her band People Planet, Daisy chose to tackle this night with just her acoustic guitar.
With her Dad, Otto, in attendance, Daisy delivered mostly original songs, but did sprinkle in a couple of cover songs. She won the crowd over quickly with her version of the Tyler Childers track, “Follow You To Virgie.” She knew who her crowd was and she pulled them in close. It was beautiful to watch and getting to hear her do an acoustic version of People Planet’s “Rehab” was awesome.
Now before I get into Devon Gilfillian’s performance, I need to set up a point here. While there was a TON of Kentuckians in West Virginia playing the Mountain Music Festival and several more in Kansas at Tumbleweed, this show was basically a who’s who of artists from Central Kentucky still in the area. Folks like Coby Langham, Eric Bolander, Billy Quinn, Abby Hamilton, Alissa Mahon, John Clay and even our honorary Kentuckians from Canada, Blake Berglund and Belle Plaine were in attendance.
It was a conversation with Eric Bolander, that really will sum up Devon Gilfillian’s set for you. Eric said, “This is the kinda music you get pregnant too.” I can’t really add anything that will even come close to being that accurate, but here goes. Lol Devon and his band brought the heat, the funk, the rock, the soul, the sex appeal and they absolutely set that stage on fire! Folks were absolutely gettin down by the time they hit their new song, “Get Out And Get It”, and then set staple “Troublemaker,” just about blew the roof off the Burl. We can’t wait to see both Devon and Ian again at Railbird in August!
As for Ian Noe, there’s really only word needed to tell you why you need to see him and that word is intensity. From the first note to the last, you can watch every emotion and every word manifest itself in Ian’s face. One gentleman said, “Man! He’s so angry! I f’ing LOVE that!” Preach on random drunk fella. Preach on.
There were a few times throughout the night, that I found myself totally captivated. Drawn into the stories, watching them unfold, seeing folks of all ages clinging onto every syllable and seeing Ian understand that all his hard work is finally starting to pay off. And during “Irene (Ravin’ Bomb)” even Ian seemed a bit surprised as the crowd began singing his lyrics back to him.
I’ve began noticing a trend where an artist breaks their set into sections. It is usually the singer-songwriter types that are afforded this luxury. For example, Colter Wall played several acoustic songs before bringing the band out. Tyler Childers will often do a set of more popular songs, then a small set with just Jesse Wells accompanying him on the fiddle, before rocking out to finish up. Arlo McKinley is another example. So I was really happy to see Ian be able to do that as well. As he played an entirely acoustic set that was bookended by two sets with the band.
I was actually a little nervous seeing Ian with a full band. Most folks that craft tales like Ian does, are usually more comfortable by themselves onstage. While Ian wasn’t jumping off guitar amps or swinging his microphone, he would step back and enjoy the band and interacted several times.
We were treated to a ton of songs on the night. Essentially performing ‘Between The Country’ in its entirety. Sliding in several new songs and even rehashing some classics, like Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Born In The U.S.A.” Ian delivered a lengthy set that saw the band absolutely on fire.
Loved hearing “Junk Town”, “That Kind Of Life”, “Meth Head”, and “If Today Doesn’t Do Me In”, but it was one of the last songs played that was my favorite performance of the night in “P.O.W. Blues.” Once the song and set were over, the crowd wouldn’t stop cheering. They were not letting their newest favorite son out of the Burl without doing an encore. For whatever reason, I recorded the latter half of the song and all of the ovation. You can check it out below.
Thursday was just special. There was an electricity in the air and EVERYONE there could feel it. It felt like Ian and his band were a rocket and we were launch control. We were there to make sure things were in order and see them off. I’ve been to many shows where artists return home after success, but this just felt entirely different. It truly felt like we witnessed a moment, a launch, a measurable tick in time when Ian’s career took off. It felt like we witnessed the birth of a legend and it was insanely beautiful.
Obviously, Ian has been crafting songs for years and has played the area many times, but with the success of another Kentuckian in Tyler Childers, it just seemed more folks were believers this time around. With as much talent as we have around here, that’s a feeling that we may see several more times and I could get used to that.