Video: Sadler Vaden's energetic performance reinvigorates Drivin' N Cryin' 

A review of Drivin' N Cryin' and co. at the Pour House

Drivin' N Cryin', Josh Roberts and the Hinges
The Pour House
Dec. 17

The Pour House was packed to the gills on Saturday night as music fans gathered to see the prodigal son return. Sadler Vaden, formerly the frontman of Leslie, rode back into town with his new band, the legendary Atlanta country-rockers Drivin' N Cryin'.

Also on the bill were semi-locals Josh Roberts and the Hinges, who delivered a full-on guitar assault as the opening act. Vaden joined them for a monster jam, trading licks with the leather-jacketed, hillbilly-bearded Roberts.

Led by frontman Kevn Kinney, Drivin' N Cryin' played a few acoustic songs early into their set before delving into serious rocking territory. On the pretty "Let's Go Dancing," Vaden got his first solo, and the place went crazy.

Kinney's unique voice, although not as strong as it once was, still possesses the strangled emotion it had in days of yore. He seemed to fight against invisible demons in order to get the words out. The first real rocker of the night of the 1989 classic anthem "Honeysuckle Blue."

At one point, Kinney stood out center stage, shredding his guitar while standing almost above the crowd. The whole place loved it.

While a large portion of the crowd came to see Vaden, older die-hards were also out in force, singing along, nodding their heads, and smiling. The adrenaline coursed through the whole band, from drummer Dave Johnson and bassist Tim Nielson to Vaden and Kinney up front. The audience absorbed it with glee.

After another classic, "Look What You've Done to Your Brother," Kinney sang what might be a good theme song for the Occupy Movement. "Pre-approved, Pre-denied," off 2009's The Great American Bubble Factory started off with Kinney softly singing, "Dear Bank of America/Fuck you/How stupid do you think I am?" before delivering a full-on rant worthy of a homemade sign in Zucotti Park.

Vaden's youthful energy definitely added a spark to the band. He ran around the stage, delivering solo after solo, mouthing lyrics, and singing harmony with Kinney all night. The band still had the soul, and certainly the material, but Vaden's stage presence gave the performance a jolt.

After touring for 25 years, it's hard to imagine having much left in the tank, but with Vaden's help, they played through the night, delivering a hard-rocking set that was met with complete satisfaction from the full house.

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