X was never really a punk band. It was a band that took its country and blues roots seriously and played its music with punk intensity. The band that former X leader John Doe brought to the 9:30 club Wednesday night was even more of a roots band, with Doe playing an old, warm acoustic guitar most of the show, sharing the sound spectrum with two stunning electric guitarists, Richard Lloyd and Jon Dee Graham. Graham was most impressive, burying himself ferociously in the heart of the songs, making the solos a passionate, integrated part of them, rather than a showcase opportunity. Lloyd was the perfect counterpart, laying his more linear lines on top of the music, deliberately playing with the tunes' melodies, as on "A Matter of Degrees" and "Liquor Store."
Doe sounded stronger than ever, with his big, throaty voice coming across sincerely on the beautiful "My Offering" and "With Someone Like You." He is one of the few performers, along with Neil Young and Richard Thompson, who can convincingly play quieter love songs one minute and full-throttle rave-ups like "Worldwide Brotherhood" and "What's Wrong With Me" the next. If he keeps this band together longer than this tour, it could develop into one of the finest in the country.