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Sunday, 7 February 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: The Cadillac Three

The Cadillac Three & Whisky Myers, The Tramshed Cardiff

Cardiff was the last stop on American Country Rockers The Cadillac Three's UK wide tour, before they hitched up their britches and skedaddled back to Tennessee. Cardiff got something special though, a unique experience that saw local record store Retro-Vibe Music host an in-store acoustic session and signing with the band which mean that in the afternoon of the gig, TC3 fans packed out the record store and jammed four of their songs, starting with the steam train shuffle of Days Of Gold the three men played a sedate set that evoked memories of a juke joint in the Cajun country somewhere as Jaren sang his lungs out aided beautifully by the Cardiff choir that had gathered in the shop (who would come into their own later) as JJ country picked at his acoustic, Kelby played Dobro (Steel Resonator Guitar) which is still the most authentic country instrument ever and Neil banged out a beat on a Cajon (drumbox). The band seemed genuinely pleased that so many had turned out and were willing to brave the rain and wind to see the band, for many this would be the only time they would see TC3 in that day as their show at the Tramshed later was sold out very quickly. From Days of Gold they went into the grooving Peace, Love & Dixie the sing-along White Lightning and the closing shot of The South. As I've said the band seemed genuinely humbled that they were allowed to play in an 'old-school' record shop to their feverishly excited fans in such a intimate welcoming environment. After the set the band headed downstairs and happily signed album covers, tickets and anything else presented (within reason of course), I for one was overjoyed to see an independent record store holding such a unique fan experience rather than the larger chain record stores. Well done to Claire, Mark and the Retro Team for their organisational skill with this coup, hopefully we will see more things like this in the future, keep an eye out.

So after some lubrication in Cardiff's watering holes it was over to Cardiff's newest venue for my virgin journey to The Tramshed. What a revelation this place is, a larger venue than most of the venues in Cardiff, this is Cardiff's answer to the O2 Academy's, with an onsite pub and a bar inside the venue boasting a wide selection of beers and ciders (not much ale though) the venue is a lot to take in with it's high ceiling, balcony and raised stage meaning that the band are visible even right at the back, as a music venue it's pretty much perfect which meant that as Whiskey Myers came to the stage looking like a younger version of Lynyrd Skynyrd all cowboy hats and Southern swagger you could hear every note the band played due to the almost perfect sound. On their first UK tour Whiskey Myers impressed with their Southern Rock stylings that saw three guitars, a bass, drums and keys all work together to honk the tonk and rock the roll, as these Texans rolled through a seven song set that saw them get the crowd going perfectly and also drew from the early days of country rock with Cody Tate and John Jeffers trading instrumental jams on their guitars which brought to mind Molly Hatchet or Gov't Mule. With great vocals, playing and stage presence Whiskey Myers started the fire burning early and with the amount of people seen wearing Whiskey Myers t-shirts post gig I think they made an impression, TC3 were going to have to step up to the plate. 8/10

Thankfully the Tennessee natives came to tear the venue to the ground and as they roared on stage it was a more animated show than the seated acoustic show earlier in the day, as is only right really, here were three men in full performance mode in front of a sold out crowd baying for some Southern loving. The boastful and filthy Back It Up started the show with some gritty, country guitars and JJ's howl backed by the walking percussion and more slide guitar than Johnny Winter. The band started strong with the Tennessee Mojo creeping along as the bands heaviest song blending seamlessly with Peace, Love & Dixie, this was the beginning of a barn burner and the crowd knew it, writhing, grooving and singing along to every line, Peace, Love & Dixie was followed by the Whiskey soaked Get Your Buzz On which encouraged everyone to find their favourite buzz and ride it (for most in the crowd this was Southern rock and lashings of alcohol), then once everyone was fully buzzed on I'm Southern became an anthem as everyone shouted about their Daddy's linking with hot sauce. The set took a slower turn a Johnstone dedicated a few songs to his partner of 14 years on this the night of their anniversary, with White Lightning and Life both getting the now larger Welsh choir singing at the top of their lungs as the band indulged in their most country output showing why Johnston has written songs for some of America's biggest Country acts.

New single Graffiti debuted live with it's percussion-driven flair it went down a storm before more influence from Hank and Waylon came on Running Red Lights and the excellent Whiskey Soaked Redemption. As the set ramped up the band once again ramped up with Down To River getting a dedication to Swansea natives Buffalo Summer who have a song with the same title, then into the free-for-all that is Party Like You and the superb Days Of Gold to close the main set meaning everyone erupted as the last chord was hit. A short time off stage and then a return for the two song encore of Girls On Fire and The South and boom they were done, inviting their tourmates on stage for a group photo decked out in the flags of Tennessee and Texas, the applause lingered in the air for a long time with whoops and hollers filling the room. Despite the sold out crowd the room didn't seem oppressive in any way as some venues do which was great as it gave us a lot of room to really enjoy this masterclass in Southern music, along with Blackberry Smoke, The Cadillac Three are at the top of the pile when it comes to good old fashioned Countrified Southern rock and on this last night (and indeed afternoon) in Cardiff they showed why. 9/10     

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