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Legendary band Exile drew a packed house for a special concert at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn., Saturday night (March 16). The band, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, regaled hard-core fans with classic hits and some new material at the intimate show, which was recorded for an upcoming album and DVD project.
The historic Franklin Theatre, located on Main Street in the city's quaint downtown district, proved the perfect setting—and the perfect unofficial title: Exile on Main Street.
"This is like playing a living room concert," band member Sonny LeMaire noted during the show. The audience, in turn, felt more than comfortable singing along to their favorites and swaying to the good-time music. Founding member J.P. Pennington and bandmates Sonny, Les Taylor, Marlon Hargis and Steve Goetzman are hardly 20-somethings (heck, they're not even 40-somethings), but they haven't lost a step when it comes to tight harmonies and youthful enthusiasm. Their medley of No. 1 hits, "I Can't Get Close Enough," "I Don't Want to Be a Memory" and "Crazy for Your Love," featured smooth transitions and adept musicianship.
J.P. started the band, first known as The Exiles, in high school in Kentucky in 1963. The name was shortened to Exile in 1973 (another anniversary) and the group started off its recording career playing in a more pop-flavored style. They hit No. 1 on the pop charts in 1978 with "Kiss You All Over." The country transition came in the 1980s, when Exile saw its greatest overall success.
During the concert, the band treated fans to several No. 1 country hits, including the group's first country chart-topper, "Woke up in Love," "She's a Miracle" and others. They also performed a song that they originally recorded in 1981 with no chart success, but which wound up being a Top 10 pop hit for Huey Lewis and the News in 1983, "Heart and Soul." J.P. recalled that the Huey Lewis version was a "note-for-note" rendering of Exile's recording. "[But] ours had the Titanic anchor," J.P. said, laughing. Les Taylor took the lead vocal for "Heart and Soul" and proved equal to the masterful Huey.
Exile closed with "Super Love," which had the fans dancing in their seats," and, naturally, "Kiss You All Over," before returning for an encore. If you weren't there in person, you'll be able to experience it soon on record and DVD. Stay tuned for more.