Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Writer Myglobalmind Webzine)
The final night of a short 3 stop UK tour sees Southern Rock maestros Lynyrd Skynyrd stop off at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon (because it always will be…), a venue they first played on October 27th 1975.
Time and band members have of course changed but the line-up we are presented with tonight consists of a good mix of long term and recent musicians and with two excellent albums under their belt in recent years, 2009’s ‘God & Guns’ and 2012’s ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’ everything bodes well for a classic Skynyrd show.
Warm up is provided by Leogun, a three-piece band from London. The band have picked up some very good support slots of late, beginning back in late 2013, supporting super-group The Dead Daisies. A review of that show can be found here: Leogun LIVE 2013
The band make the most of the large stage afforded to them tonight and although Michael Lloyd’s drum kit sits front and centre (as is often the case for the support band) it doesn’t stop good lighting and a spotlight tracks Tommy Smith as he bounces around the stage. Both he and bassist Matt Johnson sport masses of curly hair and it flies everywhere as they rip into their short six song set.
Their style of music is a great mix of blues, soul and a massive dollop of rock to cap it all off. They start with ‘My Motor’ which has been the preferred opener for the last couple of years and sets both crowd expectation and style for the rest of the set. Skynyrd’s fans were clearly happy as Leogun go down very well. Their mix of modern rock infused with classic blues and mixed with a solid 7os vibe appealed judging by the cheers and applause after most of the songs.
Two new songs make it onto the set tonight, quite a bold move when you only have six to play with in total. However both ‘Majick Potion’ and ‘Beauty Queen’ follow the same path and fit in very well.
They close the latter half of their set with firm fan favourites and for those that know the band, they will know the effect ‘Everyday’ can have on an audience. Tonight is no different. Tommy moves so the side of the stage with a brilliant white spotlight tracking him and pours his heart into the song. A slow drum beat from Lloyd sees Johnson adding the groove driven bassline before Smith slowly strums and sings about how he’s reminded of a woman and can’t get her off his mind every single day. The end of each verse breaks into a stunning guitar driven bridge and sees most of the floor of the Apollo moving in time to the music. This song alone seems to capture new fans every time the band play and rightly so.
Then, with ‘By The Reins’ to finish, they depart. Quite an impact from only six songs.
Leogun play The Garage in London on May 16th as head-liners. Miss it and regret it !
Majick Potion (N)
Beauty Queen (N)
Piggy in the Middle
By the Reins
Tommy Smith – Guitar & Vocals
Matt Johnson – Bass
Michael Lloyd – Drums
What can be said about Skynyrd that hasn’t already been said. The highs, lows, successes and tragedies of their career have been widely documented. Hell, even your great grandmother knows at least one Skynyrd track and she’s not owned a TV or radio for the last 50 years.
This is, of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s appeal. It doesn’t matter whether you like metal, rock or pop. Classics like ‘Free Bird’ & ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ are timeless and have been on compilation albums since compilation albums were first thought of. As such, the crowd tonight is a wonderful mix of grizzly old rockers, bikers, metalheads, families and above all, music fans.
The intro track is AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and it helps work the crowd into a buzzing mass of expectation and the roar that greets the band when they finally walk onto the stage is immense.
Starting with ‘Workin’ for MCA’ detailing how they were originally signed to the MCA record label back in the day, they quickly move onto ‘I Ain’t The One’ and start painting the pictures we’ve all come to expect from Southern rock bands. Relationships, angst, break ups, drinking and drugs all come into play during the tight, 90 plus minute set from Jacksonville’s finest.
Although the afore mentioned line up changes were of course forced upon the band in the 1970s, the version that stands in front of us tonight are consummate professionals with years of experience between them. Gary Rossington is a founding member, Johnny Van Zant is Ronnie’s younger brother and Rickey Medlocke was in Skynyrd in the very early 70s. There’s a lot therefore to bring the crowd to the venue and a major highlight for me was to see another ‘Damn Yankee’ playing live. Michael Cartellone really keeps the beat going all night and he’s a joy to watch at the back of the stage as he provides a master-class in drumming. Having recently seen Night Ranger live, Styx at Sweden Rock and now Skynyrd, I only need Uncle Ted to complete the set!
‘Simple Man‘ is played to a great reaction from the crowd and is made even more poignant when Van Zant takes a moment to get people to think about loved ones that have served in the forces for their country. It’s a nice touch and gets the appropriately respectful cheer from the audience.
With the need to play the hits to the masses, it’s nice to see the new material also get an airing. ‘Mississippi Kid’ serves as a great reminder that this is a band that can still produce music that sits shoulder to shoulder with the older tunes like ‘Gimme Three Steps‘, from their début, which immediately follows.
There are of course 2 tracks that need to be played and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ finishes the main set with Mick Ralphs from Bad Company joining them on stage. Having toured together on a set of joint 40th Anniversary shows it’s good to see Ralphs up on stage with them clearly relishing the opportunity to play on such an iconic track.
The encore sees everyone on their feet for ‘Free Bird’. No longer just another track from the band, the song, when played live, is an experience to behold, clocking in at just under 12 minutes.
Overall, it was amazing night with both the future of rock music (Leogun) and rock legends (Skynyrd) both present and correct.
Thunderstruck (AC/DC song)
Workin’ for MCA
I Ain’t the One
Call Me the Breeze (J.J. Cale cover)
What’s Your Name
Saturday Night Special
The Needle and the Spoon
I Need You
Gimme Three Steps
Sweet Home Alabama (with Mick Ralphs)
Gary Rossington – guitar
Rickey Medlocke – guitar
Johnny Van Zant – vocals
Michael Cartellone – drums
Mark Matejka – guitar
Peter Keys – keyboards
Johnny Colt – bass