GIG REVIEW: Brothers Osborne – Live At O2 Academy 2, Birmingham

Well, this certainly wins the award for busiest and hottest gig of the year. The turn-out in Birmingham for Brothers Osborne was phenomenal and felt over-capacity in all honesty. Their tour last year supporting The Cadillac Three was an absolute master stroke; they’ve firmly tapped into the UK rock crowd whilst maintaining the people who fell in love with them at C2C…the sky’s the limit now for TJ and John. So much so, that they’ve already announced a tour later this year in venues similar to TC3’s usual size. It’s thoroughly deserved too – this was one of the best gigs I’ve seen in a long time and it’s no wonder they’re sweeping up at the award shows.

It was such a pleasure to watch the opening act, Kendell Marvel, too. Kendell has had a hugely successful career as a songwriter, writing fort the likes of George Strait, Gary Allan, Jake Owen and many more…hey, he even wrote ‘Either Way’ with Chris Stapleton. That’s pedigree for you. He’s stepping out of the shadows with the release of his debut album ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’ this Friday (May 18th), and boy this guy can sing! Giving us a taste of the new album as well as a few familiar favourites from his songwriting catalogue like ‘Right Where I Need To Be’ and ‘Either Way’ (a tough one to pull off!), Kendell had the audience in the palm of his hand from start to finish. He’s a man with great stories, raw talent and most of all, great songs. We can’t wait to see him back in the UK, hopefully soon.

TJ, John and the band took the stage with ‘Slow Your Roll’, the first track from their terrific new album ‘Port Saint Joe’. It hasn’t been out long, but the crowd were so engaged and many of them knew every single word already. They followed it up with their latest radio single ‘Shoot Me Straight’, complete with the huge guitar solo from John which provoked a wild reaction from the crowd. They’re such a polished group of musicians; it sounds just as good as (if not better than) the record and TJ’s voice is simply phenomenal.

The next section was a delve back into their earlier material from the ‘Pawn Shop’ album, including the wonderfully raw ‘Rum’, ‘Down Home’ and of course, fan favourite ‘Greener Pastures’ which got one of the biggest cheers of the night. We were also treated to my personal favourite, ’21 Summer’, sounding wonderful with its beautifully soulful, entrancing vibe.

The real highlight of the evening was without doubt their smash-hit ‘Stay A Little Longer’, which has such incredible energy and really cranked up the atmosphere. In my opinion you won’t find many better guitar solos in music today – period. It’s mesmerizing to watch and just never gets old. The song is one of those rare gems that we’ll still appreciate in 20 years’ time, and you really have to hear it live to get the best out of it. After that, they went straight into another powerhouse of a track, ‘It Ain’t My Fault’, with an extended instrumental in the middle to flaunt their awesome musicianship once again.

After leaving the stage for (presumably!) a quick cold beverage, the boys returned to the stage for a very long encore which began with the playful ‘A Couple Wrongs Makin’ It Alright’, followed by the live debut of one of the stand-out from the new album, ‘I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)’, which is begging to be released as a single. It’s an killer anthem packed with honesty, emotion and passion; one of the best releases of the year so far. The same can be said for the next track, ‘Pushing Up Daisies (Love Alive)’ which really is Brothers Osborne at their soulful best.

The final song was a genius choice – a cover of ‘Country Roads’ which had every single person in the room singing along. One thing’s for sure, everybody left that room on a high! They’re undeniably one of the best live acts in the genre and we’re so lucky to see them so often in such small venues. It won’t last long, so let’s make the most of it!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan