The last time we caught Sturgill Simpson’s new live show was at his tour opener in Austin last May. At the time, Simpson and company were still working on the dynamics of their new brass-heavy sound. After watching the band’s performance at Farm Aid over the weekend, it’s clear they are now firing on all cylinders.
One of the things that make Simpson’s live shows so special is how he and his band adapt the material for the stage. Nearly every song from all three of his albums gets an overhaul and an injection of energy.
The most high-octane song in the setlist is “Call to Arms,” the closing track on his recent album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. With its horn blasts, break-neck guitar riffs and blistering commentary on the modern age, this song leaps off the record. To see them play it live is a whole other animal. Watch Simpson and company burn down the barn with “Call To Arms” at Farm Aid.
2016 has been a busy year for Simpson. His third album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, released back in April, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Country Albums, without getting any support on country radio. Additionally, his Sailor’s Guide tour has sold-out theaters across the U.S. and Europe.
Simpson recently took some heat for going on the offensive against the country music establishment. In a follow-up post, he acknowledged that Music Row may already be taking steps to blackball him from future endeavors. The power of his music and ability to top the charts and sell-out venues both here and across the pond are testaments to his point that he doesn’t need them anyway.