Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, along with Brittney Spencer, paid tribute to Charlie Watts with a thunderous performance of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” during Isbell’s Thursday night concert in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Spencer, who opened the show and will also open one of Isbell’s upcoming residency concerts at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, handled the Merry Clayton vocals, singing the iconic “War, children/it’s just a shot away” line with a fierce energy. As Isbell took the lead solo and the 400 Unit’s drummer Chad Gamble pounded away at his kit, Spencer danced and shook maracas before coming back to the mic to scream the “rape, murder” lyrical breakdown.
The rendition of the 1969 Let It Bleed track was an homage to the Stones drummer, who died Tuesday at 80. Isbell called Watts a “good man in a rock and roll band.” Following the “Gimme Shelter” tribute, Isbell tweeted a video of the performance, writing, “Get that vax and come join us for shit like this, people.” Isbell has been at the forefront of the call for music fans to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The singer-songwriter will only perform at venues and festivals that require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.
Isbell is set to perform Friday night in Chautauqua, New York, and will reunite with Spencer for a gig on Saturday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He concludes his touring weekend with a performance at the Railbird Music Festival in Lexington, Kentucky, on Sunday.