Texas-based roots-rocker Joe Ely spent a lot of time tuning his wayward acoustic guitar during a sold-out solo show Friday night at McCabe's.
"Boy, in a place like this, you really hear it," he explained. "I've been out for three months with a loud rock 'n' roll band, and if something's out of tune in a band, you just turn it up."
A few hours later, Ely got to turn it up instead of tune up. He--and much of the same crowd--traveled a few blocks down Pico Boulevard to reconvene for a (yes) loud , full-band, post-midnight show at the equally sold-out Music Machine.
These were distinctly different showcases. The McCabe's set showed off more of the Ely who used to be a country singer, with late-'70s ballad favorites like Butch Hancock's "She Never Spoke Spanish to Me." Mostly, though, he was full of sweet rock bluster even there--making microphones seem superfluous in the small room, and promising how raucous and revelatory the later set would be.