Last night’s Steve Earle and the Dukes and Duchesses show at House of Blues was more reserved than his last appearance in town in 2005 on the The Revolution Starts Now tour. That time, he came in riding a political album that called for change with rock ‘n’ roll; this time, he was closer to the busker he played on Treme, leading an instrumental lineup better suited to bluegrass. This time, he offered solace in hard times by singing old songs (or songs that could have been old) the way old songs are sung. Earle spoke surprisingly little during the show and referred little to Treme until he pulled out Harley’s guitar from the show to play “This City,” which was greeted by the crowd like it’s the national anthem.
“Some songs aren’t done until you play them for the people they’re intended for,” he said afterwards. “Now it’s done.”