© Jimmy Little Junior
Photos by Jimmy Little Junior
Live Gig Review by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Southern Fried country rockers Blackberry Smoke seem to be riding on the crest of a commercial wave within the last year in Europe. This was their debut gig in Ireland and I like many others boarded the express stagecoach from the North of Ireland to Dublin to witness it.
Openers Million Dollar Reload have undergone a line-up change since I last witnessed them live. Jetsioning a guitarist while vocalist Phil Conalane has taken on additional rhythm guitar duties. The addition also of keyboards has given a new complexion and dimension to the bands sound. Rattling through many of their familiar tunes they received a great audience reaction with Phil easily establishing an audience rapport. Fuelled only by very minimal alco refreshment I was struck by the quality ,virtuosity and ability of lead guitarist Brian Mallon. The other band members exhibited a strong and solid musical canvas on which their popular anthems were allowed to flourish. New tune played in the set”-Penny for your Dirty Mind” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9BuOyL2GVA illustrated a different and almost country element to the bands sound. A few weeks ago I would have dismissed that as being a negative. Indeed up to a few weeks ago I would not have anticipated even attending a Blackberry Smoke show-but here I am. As an appetiser to their currently being recorded new album it was indeed a very tasty one.
Million Dollar Reload
As I would not have described myself previously as a fan of Blackberry Smoke the last few weeks have been spent familiarising myself with their music as “homework”preparation ahead of the show itself. Majority of their set which unfortunately seemed to fly by was an absolute aural delight. Surprising the venue had not been a sellout, with the balcony being reserved solely for a few media types only. The lack of numbers however did not detract from the rebel rousing Dublin welcome that the band were afforded. My interview with the band pre-show had thrown up several references to their compadres the Black Crowes. It was true to say that both bands shared a lot more than just the colour in the names. Elements of Molly Hatchet, Doc Holliday and the good time ethos seemed similarly to permeate. From sing a longs to more introverted mellow and quieter songs the set traversed all the bands studio albums to date.
Between song interaction with the audience was kept to a minimum as in the words of another great American band they preferered to “Let the music do the talkin”. Audience consisted mostly of Smoke veterans with many attending several shows on the current tour.Newbies to the fold like myself seemed to be in the minority.The band however seemed to relish the show,and their apparent enjoyment and enthusiasm was clear for all to see. Many friends had told me that a harder sound would be present live from that which is offered up on the bands releases. The guitars were definitely more gritty and dirty than on recorded output. Both gun/guitar slingers were given ample opportunity to display their abilities and different textures outside of the basic studio song structures. If I had to pick favourites from the set-would be a difficult task but probably the ones like “Pretty Little Lies”and “One Horse Town” Those two had me singing for days after the show had ended.
Well I overcame my personal prejudice of the genre and now know that Country music means a mighty different thing to what it does here in N.Ireland.. Blackberry Smoke rode into Dublin, took no prisoners and far from merely smokin were actually on fire. Great nights entertainment with the N.ireland support also playing their part. Would recommend people check them out next time they ride into your town. You will not be disappointed!