Onstage on the Vic Monday, Steve Earle appeared each inch the singer-songwriter as biker magazine cowl boy. Along with his long, stringy hair, sleeveless black T-shirt emblazoned with a skull and tattooed biceps, Earle`s rough exterior couldn`t quite disguise the incisive social observer mendacity simply beneath the floor.
Earle and his hard-driving six-piece band, the Dukes, roared via a set of blue-collar character sketches in a two-hour-plus show that leaned closely on material from his current “The Laborious Means“ album. In a southern drawl wide enough to drive a Jeep Cherokee by way of, Earle sang poignantly about life`s losers and common Joes alike. It was a efficiency that expertly balanced rock `n` roll flash with lyrical substance.