Blackberry Smoke embarked on their European tour earlier this month, which included a small string of headlining UK shows and a spot on the Stone Free Festival line-up, alongside Alice Cooper, The Darkness, Apocalyptica and Therapy?.
Planetmosh were lucky enough to gain access to last weekend’s show at Liverpool O2 Academy on Sunday 19th June, the first date on their UK Headline Tour.
News of the supporting act had all been kept very low-key in the lead up to this year’s performances, and even the in-house stage times made no reference to who would be supporting. It was only once you approached the stage that the name Aaron Keylock could be seen printed across the drum head.
This wasn’t a name I’d come across before, but it’s safe to say that after such a captivating performance, it won’t be a name I’ll forget anytime soon. Aaron is a fresh faced Blues guitarist / singer / songwriter, who brings an energetic flair, hard rocking, and almost punk-infused twist to early Blues Rock. The relaxed stage presence and effortless guitar style portrayed by Aaron made it hard to believe he’s only in the early stages of his career, and is going to be an interesting act to follow the progression of in the upcoming years.
After playing a string of tracks off his debut album, Aaron finished the set on a high, through his gritty rendition of Johnny Winter’s Ain’t That A Kindness, truly demonstrating not only the influence the band is driven by, but the skill set they’re already working with.
Whenever I’ve had the chance to see Blackberry Smoke, I’ve never been disappointed – they’re natural performers who know how to create an electrifying atmosphere, and carry the spirit of Southern Rock and Country overseas, far removed from the venues and cities they’re used to playing back in the U.S. Their performance at O2 Academy in Liverpool was no different.
In fairness, it would be difficult for a band not to give it their all when arriving on-stage, faced by an audience filled with dedicated, merch-clad fans, eager to sing along with each track, both old and new.
As Blackberry Smoke calmly strolled on-stage and took their places, the collective roar from the crowd paved way for the band’s opening track, Fire In The Hole, from the latest album, Holding All The Roses. The band went on to perform an extensive set list, each song promptly followed by the next without any shift in pace (even while being gently assaulted by a leaking vent above the stage), and providing a perfect mix of old and new tracks, which included some glimpses of what’s to be on the next album.
Midway through the night’s event, Charlie Starr states to the crowd, “this is a song about fightin’…”, before kick-starting the gut-busting track, Sleeping Dogs. The track is accompanied by a mid-song mashup incorporating Led Zeppelin’s Your Time Is Gonna Come, and followed flawlessly by an electrifying guitar solo, which could almost put hairs on your chest.
There’s always been an appreciation for Southern and Country Rock ‘n’ Roll in the UK (let’s be honest, is there anything Rock-related we don’t appreciate?), but it’s this diversity which encourages bands such as Blackberry Smoke to actually tour across the country, rather than simply target London and move on.
There’s still time to catch Blackberry Smoke on their last few tour dates, which ultimately ends in Nottingham on Thursday 23rd June. Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer until news of the next album in released, and in turn, the next UK tour!
Reviewed by Jamie Reader-Johnson
Aaron Keylock photo by Jenni Crew
Main Photograph’s by Sakura
Gallery photos by Jenni Crew
Fire in the Hole
Six Ways to Sunday
Let Me Help You (Find the Door)
Pretty Little Lie
Rock and Roll Again
Good One Comin’ On
Everybody Knows She’s Mine
Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost
Up in Smoke
Living in the Song
Let It Burn
One Horse Town
Lay It On Me
Ain’t Got The Blues
Holding All The Roses
Ain’t Much Left Of Me
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