Opening up tonight’s show were Brothers Osborne. Not just a clever name, this 5-piece county rock outfit is fronted by siblings T.J. and John Osborne. With a sound that mixes elements of southern rock, blues and country, the brothers have managed to concoct a crowd pleasing blend which goes down a treat with the people who have begun to pack the venue. As tonight was also T.J’s birthday, it was good to see TC3 appear on stage with a cake for a surprise rendition of “Happy Birthday” in the middle of the set.
The Cadillac Three have only been together in this incarnation since 2011, but their popularity in the UK has exploded in that time. December 2014 saw the Nashville natives headline the 260 capacity Deaf Institute in Manchester and tonight, less than 3 years later, they are playing in front of a packed house of 2,500; their largest ever headline show to date.
The lights go down and things seem to be building to a crescendo with a Queens of the Stone Age track but that is swiftly replace by “Misirlou”, otherwise known as the Pulp Fiction music, which sees Jaren, Neil and Kelby Ray, aka: The Cadillac Three, take the stage. The groove-laden “Peace Love & Dixie” gets things going, followed by the sexually charged “Slide”. The ridiculously catchy “Hank & Jesus” is the first track to make an appearance from the recently released Legacy and is also the first track where the full lighting rig is brought into play, creating an ethereal space around Jaren Johnston as he wheels around his wall of amps.
TC3 are very laid back in what they do during live shows. There is no rush to go from song to song and this relaxed take on things is showcased on “Tennessee Mojo”, which is slowed down in tempo and that in turn gives it a sludgy, muddy, dirty south Americana feel. With only 3 people on stage, and 2 of them seated behind instruments, you could be forgiven that thinking this would be a very static show but this is not the case, with each band member taking every opportunity to acknowledge the audience and put as much flair into their playing as possible. Headbanging while playing a lap-steel guitar does not look easy.
It’s an extensive setlist with the classics like “Bury Me in my Boots”, “Soundtrack to a Six Pack”, “I’m Southern”, and “Drunk Like You” interspersed with cuts from the new record and even a quick pseudo-metal band jam before “Graffiti”. Sonically, the band are faultless. Everything is crystal clear, even over the raucously singing audience, and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a drum kit sound that good. Kudos to the audio department! The final song of the night declares “it’s all about the south” but tonight’s show has definitely been all about the north, and judging by the trajectory that The Cadillac Three have been on in this area of the UK, it’s almost impossible to guess what size venues they will be playing in another 3 years’ time. But until then, thank Daddy for Hank and thank Mama for TC3!