review and photos by Alexandra Healey
I usually hurry to shows at Underground Arts to get a good spot. Because of the fact that I’m pretty short and if I don’t get there soon enough, I’m almost always behind the tallest person in the room. But for Drive-By Trucker’s co-frontman, Mike Cooley’s solo show this past Thursday, I was surprised by the rows of seats set up around the stage. I didn’t realize tonight was going to be so intimate and low key, but I really wasn’t complaining. I took a seat in the back row looking down the aisle at the chair lit up by the four blue lights above the stage and waited with the others to welcome Cooley on stage.
At 9:15, the lights lowered for the crowd to get seated and ready. Minutes later, Cooley walked onto the stage. Sitting center stage, he picked up his guitar and got right into his music, opening up with “Self Destructive Zones”. Many people got drinks as he played to add to the mellow mood, while others sat and watched, some documenting the night with their phones. He continued to play the songs he wrote like “Checkout Time In Vegas”, “Marry Me”, and “Women Without Whiskey”.
“Any of ya’ll in New York City last night? Didn’t we have a good time?” Cooley asked once finished. A handful of people responded with a proud “Yeah!” and clapped being excited about seeing the singer two nights in a row. While tuning his guitar, a fan from the crowd yelled, “Thank you for coming through Philly!” And the rest of the crowd cheered. He playfully responded “Thank you, Philly…yeah I’ll be back next week with the circus!”
Towards the end of the night, Cooley randomly said “Speaking of love…” before beginning the song “Love Like This”. Once he was finished, he happily stood up and waved thanks to the crowd as the gave him a standing ovation. While exiting, his fans called his name to bring him back for an encore performance that would top off the night. Many fans ended up being disappointed once the house lights were turned back on, causing a few people to leave and other’s questioning why Cooley wouldn’t come back on stage.
Happily, Cooley surprised many of those left in the crowd by coming back to play a fan favorite “Zip City”. He then ended the night for real this time with a cover of Eddie Hilton’s “Everybody Needs Love”. Those who stayed gave him another standing ovation before finishing the drinks they had and heading home.