Reverend Horton Heat opened his country-fed punkabilly discourse with “Bullet” and blistered The Depot in Salt Lake City on Thursday night.
It was my first time hearing the Reverend's fiery sermon. While milling about the crowd, we ran into other Reverend Horton Heat virgins who were dragged to the concert by long-time fans. My friend and I befriended two twenty-somethings with whom we shared front row standing / dancing real estate. Like me, one of them had never heard the Reverend before and was completely stoked at the prospect.
“Is this a cult?” I asked my friend. While concerts are always a good time, rarely do fans display such rabid enthusiasm as I saw Thursday. I chatted with folks who'd heard the Reverend seven or eight times, but that's nothing compared to Australia where the Reverend is so popular that the George Road Winery has created a limited edition Australian Rev Wine. (Sorry, only available in Aussie land.)
For those wondering about the presumptuous religious title, the Reverend is Jim Heath. Heath was nicknamed “Horton” by a fellow in his home state of Texas who proclaimed Heath's music to be like “gospel,” but not at all the musical genre. Among his themes, the Reverend preaches “It's Martini Time,” “Drinkin' and Smokin' Cigarettes,” and “Please Don't Take the Baby to the Liquor Store.” And then he admonished his flock with “The Devil's Chasing Me.”
The Reverend's band spotlights the animated Jimbo Wallace on bass and tireless Paul Simmons on drums. “Jimbo Song” showed off the bass player's versatility with his instrument, which went horizontal and was thrown into an airborne spin during the concert as “Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo,” emanated from the floor in front of the stage. Simmons banged up the evening with a five minute plus drum-a-thon.
As I was working my way back to my “group” after I'd gone upstairs to take pictures, I perused my copy of the set list and a fan was awestruck. “Where did you get that?” he probed. It's not like it's a big trade secret of concert bloggers that Set List Fm is the place to find out what a musician has played at other recent concerts. And like many artists, the Reverend remained fairly true to the stockpile of hits from past concerts, by his own admission. He and his band fired off a few songs from each of his nine albums.
Self proclaimed as “the biggest, baddest, grittiest, greasiest, greatest rocker that ever piled his hair up,” the Reverend invoked his choir of followers with sing alongs to “400 Bucks,” “Cowboy Love,” and nearly every song he played. A performing time line that dates from 1985 leaves plenty of time for fans to learn the songs.
Before the Reverend's blistering sermon came to an end, we had heard 22 country, punk, big band, swing, and rockabilly songs. Fans walked out of The Depot screaming and turbo charged with enthusiasm. Amen. Allelujah. What more can I say?
Reverend Horton Heat Band
Jim Heath – guitar and vocals
Jimbo Wallace – bass and vocals
Paul Simmons – drums