Folk Legend Arlo Guthrie plays at Egyptian Theatre

By Jacob Roushia

DeKALB — Arlo Guthrie performed Wednesday at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., for the first time since 1990 as part of his 2019 Alice’s Restaurant Tour. 

The concert was enjoyable to watch and be a part of.  

Throughout the show, the performers used the screen to play animations and videos and to show pictures related to the songs. This technique invested the audience more into each set or song. 

The lights also changed color and direction to match the moods of the song, which helped achieve immersion for the audience. 

The show began with a video playing “The Motorcycle Song.” The video was an animation of a pickle singing the song, and the audience got a good laugh out of it. 

The video set the mood of a humorous night. Arlo Guthrie then came out on stage with his band members, including his son Abe Guthrie, on keyboards, Carol Ide, playing the tambourine, Terry Hall, on the drums, and Steve Goodman, playing the guitar.

Carol, Arlo and Sarah Lee played various instruments throughout the show.

Arlo proceeded to apologize for the “silly video” that he found in a dusty box. He described how he found the video and why it never was officially released. 

 At the time of the performance Wednesday, he was sold out in every concert in the Chicagoland area, according to OldTown School’s website. 

Arlo has performed at Woodstock, acted in television and film and is a popular figure in the folk music genre.

Arlo referenced not remembering playing at the theatre in 1990 during the performance, prompting loud laughter from the crowd. 

Arlo and Sarah Lee ended or began each song with a description about how they came up with that specific song, who wrote it or the story behind it. 

This made the audience members invested in each song and understand where the artist was coming from. 

Arlo played songs involving his time on the show “The Byrds of Paradise.” The show premiered in 1934 and was about a family moving to Hawaii based on the lyrics. 

The songs revolved around his time meeting people, being in Hawaii and saying goodbye. It showed the emotional side of Arlo and his feelings on the show. 

He referenced his father, legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, “stealing songs” and went on to play one of the songs that Woody changed the lyrics to. 

This showed Arlo’s relationship and thoughts on his father in a humorous way. 

Arlo told the audience about one of his concerts when a reporter told him Bob Dylan was performing the same night as him.  

The reporter asked him why anybody would see Arlo if Dylan was playing. Arlo quickly responded by telling the reporter; if they want to hear good Bob Dylan songs they will have to go see  Guthrie’s concert. 

He then went on to play a cover of Dylan’s song, “Gates of Eden.” Arlo’s version of the song showcased his unique personality. 

The band’s instruments and performance created a different but pleasant sounding version of the song.  

Sarah Lee played various songs inspired by her experiences on the road, including developing a family album and meeting her husband. She encouraged the audience to sing along to most of the songs.

Throughout the show, Sarah Lee went on and off stage to sing with her father. Her female country voice added a unique element to the songs. Arlo and Sarah Lee’s relationship felt genuine and showed the importance of family for them.

The two hour show closed off with the band performing Woody Guthrie’s hit song, “This Land is Your Land.” The audience gave a standing ovation, which prompted an encore. The last song of the night was based off Woody’s notes that Arlo found and turned into a two-verse song; he encouraged audience participation. It was a fun way to end the night and made the audience members feel like there were part of the band. 

The show was fun to be part of, and the stories behind every song made it more emotional, immersing the audience. The atmosphere felt more like hanging out with Arlo as a friend than as an audience member.