Two mostly Tennessee-bred bands were recently welcomed through the doors of Bristol’s O2 Academy and although the country’s cultures may appear poles apart, the shared love for Southern melody was voraciously expressed throughout the evening between musician and excited supporters alike.
Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown, the main support act for the headlining trio, are a classic rock/blues quartet who encapsulated a form of rock and roll charisma that has long since evolved through musical progression (but is still quite clearly the best). Living and breathing a style designed by those they have supported such as the mighty AC/DC and Aerosmith, the flashback to a less tightly categorised genre gave everyone a reminiscent post-grunge and hard rock experience.
Mr Bryant has constructed quite a prestigious swell of praise from his years as a guitarist and rightly so, proving to be quite the front man and a confidently care-free character. Switching between guitar and his trusty dobro resonator, the group played a number of tracks that quickly won the audience over with long impressive instrumentals and an absolute savage drum player, who literally played his way right out of the stool and on to the bass drum to continue smashing symbols and tom-toms.
The European tour made it clear that a third opening band is not always a necessity and taking away the extra set kept everyone energetic for The Cadillac Three. Jaren Johnston walked out wearing his Whiskey Myers cap (that would eventually be worn by everyone on stage) while Kelby Ray and Neil Mason took their seat/stool in front of a Lap Steel and drum kit, likely given the best view of the huge crowd that had gathered to witness their delicious lick of southern rock.
Throughout the night, Neil flew through drum sticks that shattered with each hard cymbal clash as Kelby found it quite difficult to stay in position, flicking his head in unison with each slide on his cool apparatus. Regardless of these unique characteristics and techniques however, Jaren firmly held the helm as a strong vocalist and even stronger guitar player, procedurally ticking off tracks from their latest album release Bury Me In My Boots, including catchy numbers like Slide, Drunk Like You and Piece, Love & Dixie.
Making a point of revealing all of their partners location to the public, carefully clambered together behind the soundboard, the beautiful Runnin’ Red Lights highly distorted guitar notes were plucked and the harmonised chorus rang out as a realisation that the track was less for their audience and more of a personal serenade to those they loved in the closed off area.
After an endlessly entertaining set of captivating songs, their alternative encore remained as compelling as the rest of their show with a heart-warming dash, as Mr Johnston invited their support act back on to play a Tom Petty cover of Honey Bee not only as colleagues, but as what appeared to be good friends. Tyler and Jaren created an enticing twelve string atmosphere while Neil abandoned the drum kit and replaced it with the very bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey he had been swigging from all night. Mr Ray stood back to back with Noah Denney, excitedly slapping the crap out of his cowbell as Denney fired off tasty guitar licks to encourage the amusing amalgamation.
Finishing on Tennessee Mojo’s The South, it was clear exactly how much care the act took in to their practice, how much they were appreciated by their Bristol fan base and how heavy the hangovers would inevitably be the following morning.
The Cadillac ThreeBristol - November 11th 2016
Photographer: Nathan Roach - Coal Poet Photography