Back in February I went along to the O2 ABC in Glasgow as a Planetmosh newcomer, wondering what to expect as I reviewed the first Glasgow gig by southern rockers Blackberry Smoke. I said in that review I hoped they came back soon as it was one of the best live performances I’d seen. Last night I got my wish as this hard-touring band of Brothers made their second visit of the year to the city. The venue was a complete sell-out for the second time in a row, suggesting it might be time to make a move up in size next time.
Supporting Blackberry Smoke on this leg of the tour is blues guitar man Aaron Keylock. Sauntering on stage with a swagger and cockiness, he, his drummer and his bass player launched into a half hour set that had the growing crowd more than impressed. In his purple corduroy trousers, with a body built like the gable end of a Rizla, face hidden under long hair and guitar slung low he bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Jimmy Page. And when I say young I mean YOUNG. Mr Keylock is an incredibly talented songwriter, singer and guitarist and is doing all this at the age of sixteen. Yep, you read that right. Sixteen. He has an EP recorded specially for sale on this tour and it’s well worth the fiver. Title track Medicine Man and Just a Minute, which he told the crowd he wrote for the tour are highlights. The guitar solo in Just a Minute is of a standard people who’ve been playing a lot longer than he’s been living can only aspire to.
So to the main event. A curtain was pulled across the stage and every time the crowd caught a glimpse behind it a buzz of excitement rippled through, along with wafting incense, a trademark of Blackberry Smoke’s stage set up. The band refer to themselves always as brothers, and you could just sense the camaraderie they have as they came on stage and launched into Like I Am. This is a band who play with smiles on their faces. Occasionally even bass player Richard Turner, officially the coolest guy in the building, will break into a bit of a grin.
The set was mostly made up of tracks from their most recent release, the live album Leave a Scar. Towards the end we were treated to “Livin in the Song,” a new track from their forthcoming album. By this point the crowd had sung themselves hoarse through a couple of hours of a band at the absolute top of their game. I guess the thing about touring so much is, practice makes perfect! Highlights for me included Shakin’ Hands with the Holy Ghost, which had the whole place singing along. Singer Charlie told the Glasgow crowd they were in great voice, and much louder than Dublin the previous evening. My fellow Planetmosher Steve was at that gig and swears it was only because they had a smaller crowd. Yeah, I believe you Steve!
Also brilliant was the happiest blues song I’ve ever heard, Ain’t Got the Blues, and an extended instrumental section in Sleepin’ Dogs. The singalong continued with Up In Smoke and One Horse Town before the end of the main part of the show. The crowd stomped and clapped non-stop, demanding an encore. As the band returned to the stage they were accompanied by a photographer from Classic Rock magazine who took the bands picture with the crowd in the background. I’ll eagerly await it’s release so I can see if I’ve managed to get my face in there! As they closed with a mass singalong to Shake Your Magnolia it was impossible not to copy them and have a huge grin on your face. This is a brilliant experience, watching a band who do what they do for the sheer love of it. The thing about Blackberry Smoke gigs, and it’s my only criticism, is that they’re always over far too quickly. I can only hope for another quick return.
Links: www.aaronkeylock.com, www.facebook.com/aaronkeylock, @AaronKeylock
www.blackberrysmoke.com, www.facebook.com.BlackberrySmoke, @blackberrysmoke
Blackberry Smoke Set List: Like I Am, Leave a Scar, Six Ways to Sunday, Good One Comin’ On, Pretty Lil Lie, Sleepin’ Dogs, Crimson Moon, The Whippoorwill, Everybody Knows She’s Mine, Who Invented the Wheel, Shakin’ Hands with the Holy Ghost, Up in Smoke, Ain’t Got the Blues, One Horse Town, Ain’t much left of me. Encore: Livin’ in the Song, Shake your Magnolia.
[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157648807562981″ size=”z” count=”100″]