By Kevin Broughton
“Man, we played Macon last night, and I kinda blew my voice out,” are the first words out of Brent Cobb’s mouth during a brief tour-bus visit before a late February show in Atlanta. And why wouldn’t it happen? Macon’s just 70 miles up the road from Cobb’s hometown of Ellaville; what to expect, if not a rocking show?
“The response on this tour has been overwhelming,” says Cobb, who recently released an album of Southern gospel standards, And Now, Let’s Turn to Page… “In places like Manhattan, even, they love it when we play the gospel record live, beginning to end. You’re gonna like this show.”
And yet, there’s one more tour stop, tomorrow in Nashville. Our boy was gonna have to dig deep.
And dig deep he would. Atlanta’s a good bit further from Ellaville than Macon, but there’s a partisan Cobb crowd on hand. It’s largely respectful of the opening act – rising country star Gabe Lee – but there’s a sense of anticipation bordering on rowdy.
As the moment arrives, Cobb and the band make quite the entrance: the front man in a shiny, mother-of-pearl-colored jacket with raised paisley, his bandmates sporting Kelly-green blazers of their own. The night is actually three concerts in one, as most of the songs from the gospel record make an appearance. After a quick jacket swap – as mother-of-pearl gives way to mustard corduroy – there’s a brief acoustic solo set, followed by a full-band, secular rocker to close things out.
It’s not until the last leg that Cobb’s vocal fatigue peeks in. “So, we played Macon last night, and I kinda blew my voice out,” he tells the crowd, before addressing the sound man. “Could we double up the vocal monitors, please?” And he soldiered on, including this live version of his 2020, tongue-in-cheek “Shut Up And Sing.”
Unsurprisingly, the lights come on after the last song of the set, signifying there’ll be no encores. Nobody complains, knowing they’ve watched a native son leave it all on the stage.