Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit rocked a sold out Met Philly with Aimee Mann - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit’s Weathervanes tour captivated the sold-out Met in Philadelphia on Friday night. Along with industry friend and opener, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, Isbell performed a night of heartfelt vocals and guitar virtuosity.

Mann opened up the night at the Met with nostalgia and wit, playing both her 1999 classics from the Magnolia soundtrack as well as some newer tunes from her conspicuously titled 2017 album Mental Illness. Mann’s persona felt like a time machine to the late 90s with her unchanged raw sound and signature mini scarf.

Aimee Mann | photo by Joe del Tufo For WXPN

Mann is not the only performer Friday who has ventured into the Hollywood scene; in his downtime from tour, Isbell acted alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the new Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon.

Isbell and the 400 Unit looked a bit different on this tour. Isbell and his wife of 11 years, Amanda Shires, recently filed for divorce, so she was not accompanying him on the fiddle. Co-founding band member and bassist Jimbo Hart was also missing for the first time.

Despite the changes and upheaval, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit put on an emotional and sensational performance. Opening up with “Save the World” from the new album, Isbell started off with a bang, bringing in a jaw-dropping light show and electric energy straight away. Isbell and lead guitarist Sadler Vaden ended the opening number with a lengthy and remarkable guitar solo that prompted a standing ovation.

Despite the Met being a seated venue, by the end of “Super 8” everyone in the house was standing, lasting throughout the majority of the show. The energy and enthusiasm coming from Isbell and the 400 Unit made it difficult to stay in your seat.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit | photo by Joe del Tufo for WXPN

As a first-timer seeing Isbell and the 400 Unit in concert, I was astonished with their capacity to bring even more passion and emotion to their live music than the recorded. For example, “Alabama Pines” from 2011’s Here We Rest is one of my favorite songs by Isbell, and the sentiment I feel every time I queue that song was blown out of the water by the live performance of it on Friday, making me feel nostalgic for the back roads of Alabama that I’ve never driven down.

Whether you call Jason Isbell country, Americana, or folk, it’s hard to deny his Alabaman roots with his southern drawl and demeanor. Isbell made a subtle political statement about the South during the show saying “I know some people consider [Philadelphia] the South, but I don’t think you want to be associated with that right now.”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit | photo by Joe del Tufo for WXPN

Isbell also shared a fond memory of his time in our city when, at age 19, he participated in the Mummer’s parade carrying the backdrops— recalling it was the first time he felt the power of a cheering crowd, albeit it not for him.

The crowd at The Met on Friday, however, was certainly cheering for him. Ending the show on one of his solo classics “Cover Me Up,” his band brought even more life into the fan favorite. The crowd drew Isbell and the 400 Unit back out for two encores including arguably his most famous and emotional song “If We Were Vampires.”

There was something truly magical about the energy inside the Met on Friday night, with fans of all ages and demographics singing together with tears sliding down their cheeks.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
  • Save the World
  • King of Oklahoma
  • Strawberry Woman
  • Last of My Kind
  • Super 8
  • Overseas
  • Hope the High Road
  • Something More Than Free
  • Alabama Pines
  • Elephant
  • Stockholm
  • Flying Over Water
  • White Beretta
  • Honeysuckle Blue
  • Decoration Day
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Death Wish
  • 24 Frames
  • Cover Me Up
  • If We Were Vampies
  • This Ain't It
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