Bristol Springs Alive With Blackberry Smoke
Spring sunshine warmed the pavements as the crowds gathered on the street outside the O2 Academy Bristol. The draw tonight was a double hitting rocking with energy delight with Biters opening the cavalcade of music, culminating with Blackberry Smoke. The bands are both label mates and friends so the pairing made sense on many levels to the audience it was the music, quality.
There was a rock n’ roll, retro bite as the band kicked off the night it was full steam ahead for music fun and games. The quartet from Georgia, stepped onto the stage with a step back into the past Norman Greenbaum, Spirit In the Sky. This is a band that have both feet in the 1970’s including a number celebrating the golden age of rock 1975. With the task of warming the crowd, they immediately connected with the Bristol tonight, with a shout out for the gigging venue on a boat we all love where they have played. Thekla the venue where we hear first many a band that become firm favourites, demonstrating the importance of a vibrant and varied landscape of venues in a city. Cardiff, please take note; Womanby Street is a cultural asset!
Now, back to the music with influences flowing through the veins of the music but never clogging the artistry with hints of Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzie and a large helping of T-Rex. Biters, have a forthcoming album due out 19th May on EarAche records; The Future Aint’ What It Used To Be. The superb and ear-catching single from the forthcoming album Stone Cold Love full of T-Rex vibe was part of the opening numbers and we certainly were riding a retro rollercoaster of delight. Fitting in with the southern rock/country rocking vibe Georgia and Gypsy Rose fitted the starter menu perfectly. This is music that entertains. Energetic young band the perfect platform of hooks that caught the vocals and licks that made you shout with joy as the drums pulled the rhythm through every number.
The Bristol crowd was excited and ready for more rock in the form of Blackberry Smoke. Back in Bristol, a band they are road warriors getting their distinctive sound majestic Southern Rock, authentic. They are as they describe themselves Too Country for Rock; Too Rock for Country the sound is a collision of two genres into a crescendo of rock that is full of southern warmth and edgy charm. Tonight Like An Arrow Tour rolled into Bristol, the city music fans appreciated this as the venue was packed from top to bottom. Opening with Fire In The Hole we are ready to put reality on hold and be transported into the land of Blackberry Smoke with the setlist full of songs from the discography covering the whole of the twenty-first century. Yes, Blackberry Smoke are a millennium southern rocking explosion. This is good time rocking music with an edge, the sound permeated through the crowd creating an electric party atmosphere. With Waiting For Thunder from current album having the audience singing and this will be a keeper for a live set becoming a classic. The melding of American music is evident in a number that rocks and Charlie Starr, pulling on the tradition of the holler and the lead break from the keyboard under the guidance of Brandon Still is picked up by the guitar. What a number only five songs in and the venue is steaming with this heavy hollering delight. The music flows with an energy as the southern rock credentials pour through the O2, with Pretty Little Lie. The wonderful southern slide sound from Charlie’s Gibson 335 was a joy to behold, and the keys add that extra tonal layer we are all transported to a special place that live music takes you. There has to be the jam moment, tonight A Sleeping Dog, from The Whippoorwill album is segued with Your Time Is Gonna Come as Zeppelin and Allman’s sounds are pulled into the version tonight. This is the moment when time stands still as the audience is collectively transfixed by the music we are a single entity absorbed and re-vitalised by the cleansing sound of guitars washing the dust away.
Tonight, music is a celebration of the sound of Americana with a willing audience participating in Ain’t Got The Blues, no-one in the audience tonight had the blues the music was a celebration of the positive, feeling good was the result. Another number celebrating the sound of the Acoustic guitar was One Horse Town. All to soon time was catching up the encore left us with a trio of delights. We wanted more, tonight Blackberry Smoke were on top of the game. The guitar harmonies flawless, the percussive rhythm full of edge and the vocals poured out across the auditorium. Closing with Ain’t Much Left, the music had said it all. Live Music rocks with Blackberry Smoke and Biters tonight.