For the second time in a week, I boarded the 5:25 to Glasgow. This time I was accompanied by “Miss Rose Wine”. She was about to lose her Barrowlands virginity!
The legendary Barrowlands Ballroom can be found in the city’s Gallowgate and is illuminated by one of the largest neon signs in the UK.
Confession time – Barrowlands is probably my least favourite venue.
So, who were we heading there to see?
We were off to spend the evening with those gentlemen from Georgia, Blackberry Smoke (ok they’re not all from Georgia) and it was a sell out show!
Arriving about forty minutes before doors open, we queued patiently, hoping to secure a spot on the rail for the evening.
As we waited in line, I overheard probably the best description of Blackberry Smoke that I’ve heard to date – too rock to be country and too country to be rock.
A short while later Miss Rose Wine and I found ourselves standing just off the rail with a clear view of the stage.
First up were a band from Atlanta, Georgia (I’m sensing a geographical theme to this tour) called Biters. These four boys seized the opportunity to win over a whole new legion of Scottish fans. At first glance front man, Tuk, looks as though he has travelled in time from circa 1975 and is some 40 plus years too late for his party. There was a real 1970’s vibe to Biters performance as they delivered a solid nine song set that included several numbers from their forthcoming album The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. These guys knew how to rock the joint as the last of the fans trooped in for the evening. They play with a sound that is inspired by the 1970’s (think Slade) with a hint of punk (think Ramones) and a shed load of talent and passion for their craft. Highlights for me, including the story that went with it of a memorable drunken experience in Helsinki were Back to Georgia, current single Stone Cold Love and set closer 1975. Great band live. I’d pay to hear these guys again and they’re album will no doubt be added to my playlist come release date in May. Check them out.
By the time Blackberry Smoke took to the stage, Barrowlands was hotter than Hell!
They opened their set with arousing version of Fire In The Hole which was swiftly followed by firm fan favourite Six Ways To Sunday. Charlie Starr and his boys could do no wrong. Already they had the capacity crowd in the palm of their hands.
Their twenty song set was peppered with fan favourites plus songs from their latest album Like An Arrow. The first of these was the awesome Waiting For The Thunder. There was an angry, almost aggressive, edge to Charlie’s vocals on this that were spot on for the song. Loved it!
This was followed by the energetic Rock And Roll Again. The fans were loving it – and so were the band!
Guitarist Paul Jackson was immediately in front of where we were standing and its fair to say he was grinning all night.
Mid-set Blackberry Smoke played one of my personal favourites – Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost. Love love love this one!
Having thanked someone in the crowd for bringing along the Georgia flag, Charlie introduced a Dan Baird cover, Another Chance. Blackberry Smoke’s version may be better than the original….or maybe I’m just a little bit biased.
Then it was time to slow things down a bit. Charlie had barely started picking the intro when the fans started clapping in time. A question as to whether the fans felt like singing tonight was superfluous as the Glasgow rock choir almost drowned Charlie out. The band stood back and smiled in unison as the fans sang their hearts out. This moment sure was filled with “big sparkling shine.”
The beautiful Woman In The Moon followed. A mellow moment in an otherwise highly energised show. Another one of my favourite Blackberry Smoke songs. Simply gorgeous.
Title track Like An Arrow from the band’s latest album rounded off the main set.
After what, in the heat of the ballroom, felt like an eternity, Blackberry Smoke returned to the stage to thunderous cheers.
Sunrise In Texas, long time live favourite, opened the encore. Beautiful song that was finally recorded and include on Like An Arrow. Sporting a wide brimmed cowboy hat with a jaunty feather, Charlie led the bluesy vocal to then the Glasgow choir joined in for the chorus. Stunning mellow song. Love it!
After a brief chorus of Amazing Grace, Ain’t Much Left Of Me ended a fantastic evening’s entertainment.
An aptly title tune to end on as that’s precisely the way I felt, having melted in heat for the previous two hours. The chill, damp evening air was most welcome when we exited the ballroom.
Till next time, boys. Hurry back.