Nikki Lane and Carl Anderson at Globe Hall in Denver, CO on 5/15/18

Nikki Lane and Jon Shoemaker

It was an eventful first day of the tour. The band was testing out a different set list while breaking in their new bass player. Nikki Lane was wearing a newly acquired hat that was “just a little too small.”  The opener Carl Anderson and his guitar player Sam Wilson were playing Denver for the first time. They performed on empty stomachs due to the venue selling out of barbecue before they could order. The food shortage could of also contributed to the crowd being too drunk for a Tuesday.

Nikki Lane – All photos by
the Rock and Roll Princess

A break up and an unexpected encounter at a flea market shaped Nikki Lane’s career. After working in the fashion industry, Lane decided to become a singer out of spite after splitting up with a country musician. After she met Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys randomly at a flea market, Lane convinced him to produce her second album. That record received high praise from the music industry.  She was declared the First Lady of Outlaw Country. That gave her the opportunity to open for Loretta Lynn and Chris Stapleton.  Now she is touring in support of her third album Highway Queen.

The song 700,000 Rednecks set the tone of for the evening with Nikki Lance confessing “I travel around from town to town/I do the best I can everyday/I drive long hours and I don’t get to shower and I ain’t going to brag about the pay.” After playing a number of songs from her latest release, Lane switched to All or Nothing from her first record.  Her breathy vocals inspired many of the women in the audience to sing-along. An enthusiastic fan with a light-up boa and a cartoonish tiny hat belted out the lyrics with such passion it almost stole the spotlight from Lane.

Alex Munos and Nikki Lane

The show suddenly stopped because of technical difficulties with bass player Jon Shoemaker’s equipment.  Lane quickly went backstage to retrieve a bottle of whiskey and a glass bottle of Coke.  She talked to the audience while enjoying her spirits and chaser.  When the problem was finally fixed, Lane passed the bottle (of whiskey not Coke) to the crowd. This is the second time I witnessed alcohol being distributed to the fans by the headliner at Globe Hall. It might be some kind of unspoken tradition.

Jack Pot ended the set with a clever comparison of love and gambling (it even had Viva Las Vegas in the chorus).  The band came back for the encore playing Mickey Newbury’s Why You Been Gone So Long. As Nikki Lane left the stage, her bottle of Coke spilled at the base of her microphone stand while the crowd poured out into the blackness of the night.


Carl Anderson and Sam Wilson

In the middle of his set, supporting act Carl Anderson heard a voice in the crowd requesting Different Darkness. The song describes the similarities Anderson has to his estranged father. “Same wanderlust, met with a different darkness/I can see his face in mine.”  His dad was a drifter/folk-singer who Anderson last saw him when he was just six years old.  When he was a teenager growing up in a small town in Virginia named Wolftown, Anderson discovered he shared his father’s gift of music. He sang songs with melancholy themes accompanied by Sam Wilson’s atmospheric haunting electric guitar playing.  Despite his somber lyrics, Anderson appeared delighted about his Denver debut. He smiled at the crowd, showed off his dancing skills, and even made John Denver jokes.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one asking the singer to pass me the bottle.

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