An intimate venue for Myles Kennedy Performing Solo on Bristol Boat, The Thekla. The boat opened early with queues forming an hour or more before. We wanted to be up front tonight. The excitement, if it could be bottled, would brighten the darkest hour of the darkest day.
The warm-up act, Holiday Oscar, had a hard job we were all impatient. He delivered an acoustic set that entertained the waiting throng with songs that were modern and relevant. The repartee was entertaining and linked the songs from one the next with plugs for his latest E.P; I Can’t Keep Checking My Phone.
Short break with everyone eyes firmly fixed on the small stage in a boat packed to its gunwales for this Sold Out show. Opening with Devil On The Wall, from his latest acclaimed solo album Year of The Tiger. A sell-out gig, absolutely expected in a small venue and one of the greatest rock vocalists going to sing at such an intimate and quirky venue. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. The waves of anticipation rose with every opening bar in a set that was a mix of his latest album and Alter Bridge and some dodgy songs from his early career. Tonight he warned us the guitars were in tune, but would his voice hold out. Myles had warned us he had a sore throat and through the show, he quipped will have to sing the songs as a tribute to Barry White. So we listened but the voice held up, there was the odd hint of croakiness and no falsetto yelping across the Thekla bow. A demonstration of an artist that truly understands his wonderful vocal instrument by protecting it with his self-imposed limits tonight in the smallest of venues he was playing on this tour. The audience was delighted to help Myles Kennedy out by singing along lifting the spirits of everyone.
With a selection of numbers from his concept album emotionally charged built around his father’s death, as a Christian Scientist, he had refused treatment and died when he was five. Kennedy’s mother then moved him and his brother to the West Coast. Th only disappointment for me tonight he didn’t play the whole album in order the emotional power would have soared through The Thekla. That said, the set was a crowd pleaser with songs that are uplifting, emotional and familiar.
These included a stunning version of Starlight, off the album Slash by Slash and World on fire, the heat in The Thekla mimicking the heat from the song. World On Fire, (Myles and the Conspirators), who we will be seeing following the announcement up the Mountain at Steelhouse Festival this summer. Playing on a Bristol Boat and Up a Welsh Mountain will give him two very different perspectives. The Alter Bridge numbers may have been stripped down but they were still, in reality, big-arena anthems that the crowd loved to fill in the sound with mighty singing.
Then there was two guitarist onstage. as he was joined by Tim Tournier. The outcome was the highlight of a night crammed with wonderful music. Haunted By Design, was gorgeous. Breathtaking the lower register combined with Tim’s Slide and Picking what a stunning combination the pure energy and ecstasy of acoustic music the song is central, the lyrics are everything. When Myles sang Mars Hotel, he admitted that the Mayfield Four’s number had many shortcomings as through the song we heard a verbal documentary in chosen breaks including the outburst – What a whiner! This openness is refreshing a musician enjoying being on stage interacting with fans, seemed perfectly natural tonight as rockstar, acoustic entertained using a range of guia=tars including a wonder National with beautiful slide and a sound the entranced the boat.
Throughout the evening requests were shouted for from Blackbird to Freebird. Well, he did do a short rendition of Sweet Home Alabama. In a show that Myles chatted with the audience comfortable with the outburst whether banal or an outrageous request. We hear reminiscents and memories and found out about his days as marching band leader. How he responded to complaints about the length of hair. He cut the front short – front for work the back for parties.
With the closing numbers a mix of Alter Bridges Watch Over You, and Addicted To Pain. The rock gave way to blues via Robert Johnson with Travelling River Blues Myles, guitar and stompbox party on the boat the tempo and vibe fitted tonight perfectly.
Closing out with fittingly with Year of The Tiger the night was coming to a close far too early. We had two more songs as the encore Love can Only Heal and then a number that Myles does not do often anymore Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We left the boat uplifted and we all felt blessed to have been on the boat tonight a night never to be repeated in the company of Myles Kennedy. The vocals were fine emotionally raw, and authentic. Thank you for playing on a Boat on Bristol, see you up that Mountain.