REVIEW: Whiskey Myers – Live At O2 Institute2, Birmingham

LifeInASong_UK

I’ll start with a confession. I went to this show with very limited knowledge of Whiskey Myers and their music. Their 2016 album ‘Mud’ received very favourable reviews from critics on both sides of the pond and I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. Hailing from Palestine, Texas, Whiskey Myers have been performing their brand of southern rock since 2008, and it was clear from the moment I joined the queue that they don’t attract the ‘country’ crowd. As a friend of mine said, “Dan, your hair isn’t long enough to be in here”, and that pretty much sums it up! It was a similar demographic to the Cadillac Three show I attended last year; a very loyal and passionate fan base that made an awful lot of noise.

Welsh four-piece Buffalo Summer kicked off proceedings with their heavy, southern-influenced brand of rock. These guys have a big sound; very loud and energetic and they were perfect for getting the crowd warmed up for Whiskey Myers. Performing a selection of tracks from their 2016 album ‘Second Sun’, these guys owned the stage with such power and charisma. Admittedly, their material isn’t really my bag being a country boy, but I massively admired their presence and skill. The crowd seemed to connect with them more and more with every song and they left to a very appreciative reaction.

Whiskey Myers began their show with the first two tracks from their recent album, ‘On The River’ and the title track ‘Mud’. Cody Cannon gives such a passionate vocal delivery with that signature rough, raspy voice and he had the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he strode onto the stage. The set list was a mixture of tracks from their three albums to date, including the killer ‘Early Morning Shakes’ (from the album of the same name), ‘Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd’ from their ‘Firewater’ album and fan favourite ‘Lightning Bugs and Rain’ from the new album.

Personal highlights included their brilliant performance of ‘Some Of Your Love’, which is the epitome of southern rock and has such anthemic qualities in a live environment. ‘Ballad Of A Southern Man’ was the real stand-out track for me, and perhaps their quietest, with the welcome arrival of an acoustic guitar instead of the screaming electrics. A lovely tribute to their Texas roots with an Eli Young Band/Will Hoge like vibe – right up my street!

Towards the end of their show, their cover of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ sent their adoring fans wild and provoked much audience participation, with the backing provided by the clapping. Initially, it was a surprise cover and I did question whether it was necessary, but it turned out to be a genius addition to the show and probably got the loudest reaction of the night. Shout out to Tony Kent, the ‘second drummer’ if you like, who seized his moment to shine at the front of the stage with the cow bell. That was badass!

Returning for an encore to a rapturous reception, they ended the show with the laid-back, rootsy ‘Stone’, giving Cody another opportunity to wow us with his incredibly strong voice, and ‘How Far’. It’s fair to say I’m a Whiskey Myers convert after a thoroughly enjoyable (and LOUD!) evening and will look forward to their future releases. There’s nothing false about these guys; they walk on stage, do their thing with not much interaction in between, have the time of their lives, and walk off. Raw, real stuff from a very talented band.

Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)

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