Myles Kennedy at the O2 Institute 2 in Birmingham 17/03/18

Oh, where to begin?

Ever since I first watched the You Tube videos of Bofest 2009 and Moscot 2014, I’ve held a secret hope of one day experiencing a solo acoustic Myles Kennedy show. It always seemed to be one of these bucket list dreams that would remain only that until last November when the Year Of The Tiger tour was announced.

On Saturday evening (well, during the afternoon too) that dream finally came true.

After a 4am start, I found myself in Birmingham City Centre by 9am – ever so slightly lost. With a little bit of Googling and eventually surrendering and asking a friendly human, I found my hotel, arranged to check in early (midday) then went for a wander.

After a much needed coffee and more Googling, I had figured out the way from the hotel to the venue so I could relax a bit.  With nothing else to do, I went shopping, on a mission to purchase a woolly scarf as it was beyond freezing outside.

Shopped out and frozen (it was snowing), I headed the hotel for a couple of hours to thaw out.

By 2.30 I was outside the O2 Institute waiting in line for the meet and greet and, yes, it was still snowing. A long queue of fans resembling snowmen lined the pavement! This is where the power of social media comes into its own as members of the “Army of 12” (look it up on Facebook if you don’t know what it is) gathered. Cue hugs and hellos and for a few finally face to face meetings with new friends. Every time there are more and more familiar faces. It really is like an international family gathering.

Things were running way behind schedule but at least we were allowed in out of the elements. Eventually, as the clock approached 5pm, we were ushered into the room to hear the latter part of sound check.

One of the main bucket list/dream list items was to hear Myles playing his resonator. That dream came true the second we stepped inside the door. Immediately there was a relaxed atmosphere in the room and Myles chatted amiably with the fans. He seemed genuinely amazed to see so many there for the meet and greet (roughly 20% of the audience were there). He joked about just starting the show and playing for hours. If he had, no one would have objected! We did enjoy a rare treat as, on request, Myles played a little section of Lover. Beautiful.

At the end of sound check, Myles opened things up for questions for a few minutes. Some of the answers required a little “busking” and among the things we were treated to was a snatch of “Fly Me To The Moon.”  All good fun.

Signing and photos completed, we were all reluctantly ushered back out into the cold at 6.20pm…and, yes, you’ve guessed it – it was snowing!

Shortly after 7pm we were allowed back indoors. The immediate warmth was divine!

There was only one support act for the evening – Holiday Oscar. He appeared on stage at 7.30pm, almost immediately blew his amp and scared the hell out of us with the BANG and continued to be plagued by technical problems throughout his thirty minute set. It was a pity for him but it also secured the sympathy vote from the crowd. A mix of stand up patter merchant and songwriter, Holiday Oscar is a bit of an enigma. (Think male Victoria Wood) He did sing one humorous song about Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un…

and moving swiftly on…..

After an overdose of Johnny Cash, (they must have picked the man in black’s most mournful songs for the PA!) a hush fell over the capacity crowd. From the side of the stage, largely out of sight of the crowd, Myles began to play Devil On The Wall. He was welcomed on stage a few seconds later by a huge warm cheer.

Right from the off, Myles looked relaxed and at home on the small stage. He followed the opening song with a trio that spanned his career- Standing In The Sun, Before Tomorrow Comes and the fabulous Eden (another one ticked off the dream list) I love that song!

For Haunted By Design, Myles was joined on stage by Tim Tournier, a real Jack-of-all-trades (manager/guitar tech/musician/friend). This is one of my favourite songs from Year Of The Tiger and the capacity crowd lapped it up!

By now Myles had shed his blue velveteen jacket and was sporting his “flannel” shirt (it’s tartan, Myles!) This were heating up both on stage and in the audience. We’d gone from sub-zero outside temperatures to a tropical heatwave indoors! Hot hot hot!!!

The stunning Starlight followed, then a fantastic version of Alter Bridge’s All Ends Well (Alter Bridge have never played this one live)

I’m not a big Led Zeppelin fan (sorry, Myles) but even I could appreciate the cover of Going To California and the passion that Myles poured into it.

The powerfully emotional Blind Faith followed. I adore the tone of that resonator and those lyrics…wow! Myles had the entire audience held in awe. Stunning!

How to follow that? Well Lyla, again from the Mayfield Four days, did the honours (and added another tick to the list)

The final tick was added to the list two songs later. Temperatures had risen even higher! The flannel (tartan) shirt had been discarded and the fans were treated to a “stripped off” rendition of Travelling Riverside Blues. Eargasmic! This was smoothly transitioned into an incredible acoustic arrangement of World On Fire.

Rise Today and title track, Year Of The Tiger, rounded off the main body of the eighteen song set.

After a brief (very brief) pause, Myles returned to play a two song encore. He began this by playing a cover of the Elton John song, Levon. The crowd didn’t know it so Myles’ attempt to get them to sing along fell a little flat. Poor guy seemed genuinely stunned that the Birmingham crowd weren’t familiar with it. I felt a little guilty, I must admit. (Myles, it was never released as a single in the UK back in 1971- sorry)

Tim was welcomed back on stage to assist with the final song of the night. After displaying his guitar playing prowess while Myles fought to bring his own back into tune, they rounded out the evening with Cry Of Achilles. Great song to end on.

If I had to sum up the whole show in one word it would be “magical”.

 

This show really was filled with the stuff dreams are made of. Can’t wait to do it all again in Glasgow on Tuesday.MKaMKbMKcMKdMKeMKfMKgMKiMKjMKkMKlHO collage

 

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Year Of The Tiger – Myles Kennedy

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Released                      9 March 2018

Label                              Napalm Records

Producer                      Michael “Elvis” Baskette

 

Highlights                     Love Can Only Heal

The Great Beyond

Mother

 

Lows                              none (honestly)

 

Best Lyric                      “I know you’re steadfast in your ways

Never compromise your faith

But is it worth it in the end

To never see my face again”

Blind Faith

 

“Your conviction, your belief

How could you choose that over me

I still miss you now

God damn, I miss you now”

Nothing But A Name

 

This solo debut album from Myles Kennedy, Year Of The Tiger, has been eagerly awaited by fans for a very long time. And believe me, it was well worth waiting for.

This solo debut album from Myles Kennedy has me lost for words and over flowing with emotions.

Every time I listen to it, I hear something else that hits home.

Throughout the twelve tracks of Year Of The Tiger, Myles uses his music to channel the emotions he has carried with him for over forty years surrounding the death of his father. (His father was a devout Christian Scientist and his faith in the power of prayer saw him pay the ultimate price for his beliefs when he died   from an illness that medicine could have treated in 1974 – the Chinese Year of the Tiger.)

However, this isn’t a record filled with death.  This is a record bursting with love and hope.

I’m no musician. I’m a music fan and I’m not about to insult the majesty of this record by dissecting it track by track.

Words that have come to mind while listening to these twelve songs are: love, uplifting, beauty, soulful, hope, heartfelt, honest, raw, powerful, poignant and true.

It’s masterpiece. It is also the first record to move me to tears at several points on it’s passionate musical journey time and again.

Don’t listen to me. Listen to Year Of The Tiger for yourself then listen again and again and again…… you won’t regret it.

 

10/10

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(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

 

 

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Brian Fallon and the Howling Weather @ O2 ABC Glasgow 22/02/18

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For the first time in 2018, I boarded the 525 to Glasgow last Thursday, chaperoned by Boy Child. We were heading into the city to kick start our musical year at my favourite venue, the O2 ABC.

So, to whom did the honour fall of being my first live band of 2018?

Brian Fallon and the Howling Weather. (Technically, it was support act Dave Hause)

Dave Hause took to the stage at 7.30pm accompanied by his brother Tim Hause and opened his forty minute set with Shaky Jesus. There was nothing shaky about this performance. Dave followed this with C’mon Kid, one of my personal favourites. Both brothers showcased their versatility throughout the eight song set. While Dave primarily played his acoustic guitar, he treated the fans to a display of his keyboard skills during We Could Be Kings. Brother Tim demonstrated his prowess on mandolin and keyboards as well as on guitar and backing vocals.  Together the brothers from Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, delivered a solid support set, rounding things off with a cover of the Tom Petty song, I Won’t Back Down and With You. This energetic set closer had the capacity crowd ready to dance and ready to sing and more than ready to welcome Brian Fallon.

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Brian Fallon and the Howling Weather ( yes, Ian Perkins is still there as Brian’s right hand man) stepped out on stage to deafening welcoming cheers. Before they’d even played a note Glasgow was showing its love for the boy from Asbury Park, NJ.

The eighteen song set opened with A Wonderful Life from Brian’s debut solo record Painkillers. It was swiftly followed by the even popular Rosemary then the awesome Forget Me Not from the latest album Sleepwalkers. A powerful opening trio that really got the party started.

There are no surprises at a Brian Fallon show. Time after time he plays a solid rock’n’roll show and does what it says on the tin. The set was a wise mix of Brian’s solo songs, a few from The Horrible Crowes, a couple of Molly and the Zombie songs, a U2 cover and one Gaslight Anthem classic. What varies every time are the stories and conversation.  A highlight of the show is watching and listening to Brian interact with the fans. This evening was no different and he seemed particularly relaxed and chatty between songs. Even Ian Perkins, usually silent on stage, spoke!

Highlight songs in the main set were Forget Me Not and Come Wander With Me from Sleepwalkers plus Smoke from Painkillers. Boy Child was delighted that the soulful Etta James made the set. I was slightly disappointed that none of the acoustic favourites made the cut- no Steve McQueen, no Honey Magnolia….. next time, Brian, please.

Glasgow was treated to a premiere performance of Watson from Sleepwalkers. Beautiful song live.

Brian had joked earlier in the evening about encores and basically about how they seem pointless. He said that he’d rather keep playing than walk off stage for a few minutes but if he does that then the fans feel cheated out of an encore. So, to keep everyone happy Brian promised to walk off and back on at an appropriate moment.

After Watson, that moment came and the whole band left the stage. A few seconds later, Brian returned alone and took a seat at the piano. A slight hush of expectation fell over the sell out crowd as they waited with bated breath to hear what was coming. The 59 Sound! What a performance! Stripped back and raw and simply stunning. Truly the highlight moment of the night.  Equally incredible was the crowd’s singing. Beautiful!

How to follow that! Well Brian followed it with a solo performance of See You On The Other Side. Another gorgeous song from Sleepwalkers.

A few moments later the band returned to the stage and were joined by Tim Hause on piano for the final number of the night- a cover of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. By the time Brian reached the first chorus, Dave Hause had joined the party and the two vocalists traded verses and choruses through to the end of the song and the end of the show.

Sadly all good things have to come to an end.

 

An amazing show to start my musical year.

Hurry back, guys!

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Sleepwalkers- Brian Fallon

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Released              9 February 2018

Label                     Island Records/Virgin EMI

Highlights            Forget Me Not, Etta James and Proof Of Life

Lows                      Her Majesty’s Service and Watson

Best Lyric             “So gimme all your troubles, Gimmer all the spiders in your brains” from Proof of Life

 

I’ve been listening to Brian Fallon’s second solo record all week waiting to fall in love with it….. and so far it hasn’t happened. That doesn’t mean for a second that this is a bad record. It’s not. It’s a really good listen but it’s a “grower” and I’d say, nine days in, I’m very fond of it but the love I have for Painkillers, his solo debut, just isn’t there …yet.  I think what’s frustrating me here are the numerous British references throughout the lyrics of various songs on this album. It’s like an English tourist board commercial. Yes I get there’s an element of respect being paid to the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Clash but it just doesn’t sit well with me. I miss the “American dream”….. sorry, Brian.

Highlight song for me is Forget Me Not but I wish that the acoustic version had been included as a bonus track option. The acoustic version showcases this song’s versatility and is truly beautiful.

All of this said, I’m really looking forward to seeing Brian Fallon and the Howling Weather later this week and then to seeing him again in July with the Gaslight Anthem for the 10th anniversary of The ’59 Sound.

 Rating                   8/10

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(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

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My 2017 Musical Highlights….

As 2017 draws to a close it’s time to look forward to great gigs yet to come in 2018 and also to reflect on some of the musical highlights of this year….. there have been a few.

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Happy New Year to you all when it arrives and may 2018 ROCK \m

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Mastodon @ Barrowlands, Glasgow 7 Dec 2017

On Thursday evening I boarded the 525 to Glasgow for the final time this year, suitably chaperoned by Boy Child and FB Son.

And who were we going to see?

Well, we were heading for the “iconic” Barrowlands to see Mastodon. (Sorry, it really is a bit of  a dump)

I have to admit the walk from the Central Station through the city centre was very pretty. Very festive! Lots of twinkling lights and the occasional giant reindeer but the twinkling lights we sought were the huge neon sign at Barrowlands. You really can’t miss it!

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After a chilly half hour of queuing, we were all relieved to see the doors open and, after a very thorough security search, were finally allowed up the stairs to secure our rail spot for the evening.

First band to appear onstage were Russian Circles, an instrumental trio based in Chicago. They had obviously brought a small core group of fans along. To our left, there were about a dozen guys totally absorbed in the entire half hour of metal shoe-gazing musique. They were like a row of dipping birds, which prompted an uncontrollable fit of the giggles from yours truly . ( Watch this and you’ll get the idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwjzbN8Vz0k  )

As for Russian Circles…..well, I’m going adopt the Thumper Principle here “If you can’t say nuthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

Russian Circles Collage

Red Fang were up next. Again, another new band to me but sadly again they missed the mark for me. Don’t get me wrong, these four guys from Portland Oregon played a solid support set and were an immense improvement on Russian Circles but it just didn’t cut it for me. Boy Child described them as “Dad Rock”. Wiki describes them as “stoner metal”. In reality, they are most likely a mix of both. Check them out if you’re curious. In their favour, they got the capacity crowd wakened up and eventually revved up ready for the arrival of Mastodon.

Red Fang collage

Mastodon took to the stage shortly after 9:15 amid a sea of pulsating green lights. Almost instantly a huge chant of “Mastodon! Mastodon!” went up as the band eased into their seventeen song set with The Last Baron, from their 2009 opus Crack The Skye. Brent Hinds obliged with the opening vocal chores. The tempo was swiftly upped by Sultan’s Curse, from their current album Emperor Of Sand, and Divinations, also from Crack The Skye.

I’m going to be honest here, I’m not overly familiar with Mastodon’s earlier albums but I do like Emperor Of Sand. In total, six songs from it found their way onto the set list.

Ancient Kingdoms, from Emperor Of Sand, was up next and if nothing else showcased Mastodon’s stage set up and lighting. Six tall narrow LED pillars stood like ancient columns across the width of the stage. Together with the multitude of spotlights, this made for an impressive backdrop. The spotlights also highlighted the constant stream of crowd surfers being passed out from the huge mosh pit. (Yes, Boy Child and FB Son had by now disappeared in that direction)

Mastodon are somewhat unique in that all members of the band fulfil their fair share of vocal chores. It’s also the first time I’ve known the drummer to be the main vocalist. Nice job, Brann Dailor.  All four members have a distinctly different style and stage presence.  There’s Brent Hinds who wouldn’t look out of place in The Hobbit or Game of Thrones and the military sergeant look of Bill Kelliher. For me, I think my vote goes to bassist Troy Sanders. Loved his performance all night.

Highlight song of the set for me personally was Show Yourself. Perhaps a little more commercial than some of the music on offer but it sat well  and held its own in one of the heaviest sets I’ve heard.

Another highlight was Roots Remain. Hard and heavy and loud!

Here, have a listen for yourself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt1E8NBCxVk&t=138s

Mastodon rounded off the evening as hard and heavy as it gets with Mother Puncher (quite apt as it was shortly before that that drunk in the crowd caused a bit of aggro and I unfortunately found myself on the receiving end of a punch), Stormbreather and finally Blood And Thunder.

Brann Dailor emerged from behind his drums to thank the fans for coming out. He stood chatting to the crowd long after his band mates had departed, then tossed his used sticks into the crowd and bade us good night.

Less chat and perhaps we could’ve had a short encore…..just saying….

A great night of LOUD music to end the year on.

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I do need to give a shout out here to the security guys at Barrowlands. I’ve never seen so many security guys lining the front of the stage but those guys did a great job all night. Crowd surfers were being passed out from the audience all night thick and fast and they handled the brilliantly. When the guy caused the minor spot of aggro beside me, one of the security guys came over afterwards to check I was ok, a gesture that I really appreciated. (I was perfectly fine) For the first time at the end of a gig, I called one of them over and thanked him for their efforts. Sweat was pouring off them all. He smiled and thanked me, promised to pass it on to the others and commented that it was rare for fans to acknowledge the effort they put into keeping everyone safe. Just proves a simple thank you goes a long way.

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The Cadillac Three at the O2 ABC Glasgow, 20 November 2017

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For the second last time this year, I boarded the 525 to Glasgow on Monday night, chaperoned by a somewhat reluctant Boy Child. We were headed to my favourite venue, the O2 ABC, and, much as he loves it too,  the prospect of an evening of country/southern rock wasn’t really doing it for him.

The fact it was raining didn’t help….

So, who were we braving the elements to see? The Cadillac Three from Nashville, Tennessee.

We joined the rapidly growing queue outside the venue (gotta love Boy Child’s O2 Priority) around 6.30 and we waited….and waited. Doors were due to open at 7pm….. 7pm arrived and the doors remained tightly shut. So we waited…and waited. A few minutes later a member of the venue’s staff came out to apologise for the delay, explaining that they were running behind schedule and were still finishing off sound checking.  Didn’t these guys realise it was cold and wet out there!

Eventually we were allowed to enter..hallelujah!

There was only one support act for the evening – The Brothers Osborne from Deale, Maryland. Accompanied by their touring musicians ( not sure it’s fair to say backing band), TJ and John Osborne almost instantly had the growing (damp) crowd on side. It was clear that a lot of their fans had braved the rain to arrive early to hear their set. Personally, I felt they suffered a little from a lack of interaction with their fellow musicians. Don’t get me wrong, their seven song set delivered the goods and they did a sterling job as a support act but there was something missing for me.

John Osborne cuts a striking figure in his Stetson and the pair share the spotlight fairly. There’s a lovely warm tone to TJ’s vocals but the lack of warmth on stage detracted from it for me.

The Brothers Osborne rounded their set off with It Ain’t My Fault from their album Pawn Shop and had achieved their objective for the evening – everyone was singing and clapping along.

TBO collage

Suitably warmed up and dried off (there was a distinct whiff of dampness in the air), the capacity crowd patiently waited for TC3 to take to the stage.

The sell out show was the final date in their Long Hair Don’t Care tour and their final show of 2017.

The lights dimmed, blue light swathed the stage and their “Pulp Fiction” intro tape played as TC3 took to the stage. With a little flourish, TC3 paused then opened their set with fan favourite Peace Love And Dixie. Every toe in the room was tapping and, by the first chorus, the fans were in fine voice.

There’s no frills with these boys from Tennessee. No tricks. Nothing fancy just good honest, live, southern/country rock and beer! First time I’ve seen mic stands with cupholders for beer. Brilliant!

I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a front man change guitars as often as Jaren Johnston does. It’s an impressive collection!

TC3’s twenty one song set covered almost their entire catalogue of music.

They pulled out all the stops for this final show of the tour, playing a brilliant version of Hank And Jesus from their current album, Legacy, Bury Me In My Boots and Drunk Like You.

Mid-set, Jaren slowed things down a little, explaining to the fans that he was really looking forward to getting home to his wife and baby son, before dedicating the beautiful Running Red Lights to her. Love this song!

TC3 followed this with the fantastic I’m Southern and I’m Rockin’. We sure were!

Next it was lap steel maestro Kelby Ray’s turn to shine as he played an impressive solo, including the intro to ACDC’s Thunderstruck. Stunning playing! What struck me as nice here was that his band mates didn’t stray too far off stage at this point but hung about watching him. Jaren, beer in hand, wandered back on stage and sat down at the side to listen. It was heart warming to see this show of TC3 brotherhood.

A couple of songs later, TC3 slowed the mood down to deliver a solid version of the sultry Take Me To The Bottom. Smouldering…

One of the highlights for me was Dang If We Didn’t, also from Legacy. I’ll confess, this song has been my guilty “in the car alone singalong song” for the past few weeks. From the passionate singing by the Glasgow fans, I’ve perhaps not been alone in this! Great live party song. Awesome stuff!

White Lightning and Days of Gold rounded out the main body of the set.

After a short break, TC3 were back out for a two song encore comprising of American Slang and The South.

By the time TC3 left the stage for the final time for 2017 we were all from   The South at heart.

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