The Texas 4-piece Quaker City Night Hawks provided support for the UK and European leg of the Blackberry Smoke Find A Light Tour, of which tonight is the final date, and as the band begin playing on the sparsely set up stage but to a mostly full room, it doesn’t take them long to show why they have been brought around the world on this tour. The hawks have a laid-back funky groove to their sound with a hefty dollop of southern country blues thrown in for good measure which guaranteed that heads were nodding and feet were tapping all through the venue. Breaking with convention, they were given 45 minutes for their set and this extension showed up one minor flaw; a lack of dynamic pacing. All the songs seemed to be in the same tempo range and, over time, the absence of a change in rhythm left gaps for attentions to drift. I really enjoyed their set but with some slight set list tweaking, the Night Hawks would have a performance that most would find hard to beat.
Too rock for country, too country for rock; that’s the statement emblazoned across the back of a majority of Blackberry Smoke t-shirts on display tonight and one cursory look around the venue just before they take the stage shows the cross-genre appeal that they have. There are old country outlaws with flowing white hair and Stetsons mingling effortlessly with full-on metal heads clad in battle vests and Motorhead t-shirts that have seen better days but everyone is here for the same thing; the southern rock riffs of Blackberry Smoke.
See how awesome Blackberry Smoke are on this live video for “You Got Lucky”:
Tonight is the final night of the Find A Light UK and Europe tour in support of their latest album of the same name, released in April just gone, and it finds the BB Smoke crew in fine form. Consummate pros in a live setting, their marriage of southern rock standards with stomping riffs are perfect for a venue of this size and their ability to play off of the energy of the crowd is just one more element that adds to their increasing popularity. There are none of the pacing issues that were seen with Quaker City Night Hawks as rocking riffs blend seamlessly with ballads and full-on country barnstormers to ensure that all the boxes are ticked and everyone got what they came for.
In a time when people are rigorously defined by what genres of music they like, it’s refreshing to have a band like Blackberry Smoke who bring it all back to the main ethos; good music should be for everyone, no matter who you are or what you do.