Photo: Jeff MinAfter releasing The Headphone Masterpiece Cody Chesnutt decided that in order to prevent himself from spiraling completely out of control he needed to put that album – and the lifestyle that went along with it – behind him for good, a decision that would eliminate it from his live sets altogether.

So when someone from the crowd yelled “Look Good in Leather” it wasn’t a surprise that he responded with “Yeah, I did – back in 2002.” It set the tone for his performance at Martyrs’, and created a platform to showcase his newest album Landing on a Hundred. He opened with “Till I Met Thee” – a gospel-infused groover detailing his growth from sinful vagabond to settled saint: [LISTEN]

I was a dead man
I was asleep
Lord knows I was, I was a stranger in, in a foreign land
Oh, oh ’til I met thee

Photo: Jeff MinThe crowd took to the reformed Cody immediately, the evolution not thieving from his live performance at all. He was a jovial preacher on stage, gallivanting across like the prodigal son delivering his testimonial. He leapt in the air with joy, embraced the crowd with warm handshakes and crooned to the sky as if he was speaking to God himself.

The impromptu call-and-response of “downtown,” at the tail end of the Marvin Gaye-inspired “What Kind of Cool Will We Think of Next,” embodied his willingness to share his experiences: [LISTEN]

Know how to walk, know how to ride
Know how to stay fly, know how this time’s burning
But what we don’t know is that ain’t gonna be enough

His backing band, though, was a bit of a hindrance throughout. They overdid it at times, drowning Cody out when they should have backed off and let him do what he does best. It was hard to grasp the harsh reality behind his lyrics. Especially when the band was as overindulgent as they were. Sure Cody’s in a blissful state, but it still shouldn’t translate to a sugarcoated version of “Everybody’s Brother:” [LISTEN]

I used to smoke crack back in the day
I used to gamble with money and lose
I used to dog the nice ladies, used to swindle friends
But now I’m teaching kids in Sunday school

Cody kept the energy up for the entire show. He exalted Chicago between each song and made sure everyone within earshot was in his good grace. He also took time to explain how his wife was a key figure in his reform, which gave a song like “Love is More Than a Wedding Day” particular meaning: [LISTEN]

Love is more than a wedding day
You can’t walk away when it gets a little heavy now
I pray, Lord knows I pray
You don’t walk away when it gets a little heavy now

By the end Cody had performed himself to the point of exhaustion. It left a glow atop of Martyrs’. But even after a riveting performance it still seemed like the old Cody was lingering around somewhere – brewing underneath the surface like a devil in waiting. But even if he did have the urge to indulge in that lifestyle again he certainly didn’t have time to act upon it – he was too busy after the show, greeting fans with genuine gratitude and deep, heartfelt appreciation.