Blackberry Smoke – O2 ABC, Glasgow – 16/10/2014

blackberry-smoke-o2-sign.JPGTonight’s gig was special before it even began. It heralded my first musical outing since the delivery of my son in June which seems like a million miles away now. My first proper night of guilt-free pleasure away from the family but most of all – it would turn out to be a night where a relatively-unheard-of band from Atlanta, Georgia sold out the ABC and rocked it to it’s core. I reckon the foundations are probably still trembling as you read this.

I’m usually one for getting swept away by live music but rarely by a band who could be pigeonholed as Country/Rock. Blackberry Smoke are different and to quote our glorious leader and Chief Editor here at Musicscramble – “they’re just the right amount of country and the right amount of rock”. He hits the nail on the head here. This is a band who can sound like they’re playing on the fumes of the latest batch of moonshine one second and then pulling off massive bluesy solos and monstrous, ballsy rock riffage the next.

These guys are a talented, but humble bunch of young dudes who just love making music and, in particular, playing to a live audience. The performance was on point, with every track laid out to perfection and with short, sharp breaks between each song on the setlist, they never for a second lost the engagement with those who’d turned up to see them do their thing. Flowing from one song to the next they kept the crowd on board and were able to maximise the intensity that was palpable from the opening chord to the last kick of the drum.

Speaking of the crowd, it was very much a varied affair tonight. There is a great Glasgow term I could use to sum it up. “It went from nae hair to grey hair” which basically means there were a lot of folk in from different walks of life and from very different age brackets. That said, they were all on the same page when it came to supporting the five guys up on the stage. At one point the gang of bikers, trendies and OAPs sang unaided in unison to verse and chorus of ‘I Ain’t Got The Blues Anymore’ – a wonderful sight and sound that still brings a shiver down the spine upon reflection.

In terms of stage presence it was obvious that these guys really enjoy what they do but all the while making it look effortless. The brief conversation between Charlie Starr and the crowd showed there was no shying away when it came to interaction but it also highlighted that he’s just cool as fuck.

Track of the night for me was ‘Pretty Little Lie’, probably because it’s awesome, maybe because I feel it’s one of their finest on print and hearing it live just puts it further up there. Other standouts on what was a top performance in general were ‘Up In Smoke’, ‘One Horse Town’ and ‘The Whippoorwill’. I could go on at great length about each song played tonight but I have a suggestion for you as the setlist didn’t sway too far from that on their recent live album release so follow these simple steps and see for yourself.

1. Get your hands on a copy of the live album Leave a Scar: Live in North Carolina
2. Grab yourself a beer or whatever your tipple is
3. Dig out your big-ass-headphones
4. Soften the lights, sit back and crank it up to eleven
5. Enjoy

If, by the end of the album, you’re not impressed then check yourself into the nearest hospital – there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Blackberry Smoke Setlist O2 Academy, Glasgow, Scotland, Fire in the Hole Tour 2014

Alan Gray

Senior Writer and Editor at Musicscramble. Listens to a wide range of music. A sucker for a heavy bass line and a thundering guitar hook.

Loves getting his gig on but also loves to get behind a camera and capture music in the making. Check out akgphotos.com for more.

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