For The Cadillac Three, it was the last date on their ‘Long Hair Don’t Care’ tour. For the Brothers Osborne, it was the chance to add a few numbers to their headlining tour in May 2018. For everyone else, it was the perfect excuse to turn a Monday night into a Saturday all-dayer! The Cadillac Three like a drink, that’s for sure. Throw in the fact that it was their last gig of 2017, and it meant only one thing – party! Oh, and it was sold out as well. In order to get through to the bar or the toilet one had to be greased up like a pig about to get thrown on the barbeque.
It’s not often that you catch an award winning, platinum selling band as an opening act, so it’s fair to say that TJ Osborne and his older brother John shoehorned in a fair amount of their own fans. With a warm baritone voice, TJ Osborne instantly stands out from the pack, good looking bloke to, which helps. He is a commanding performer, and easily has the crowd doing what he wants… clapping, cheering, swaying side to side… all in a night’s work. TJ doesn’t like the cold though..”No wonder y’all drink so much up here… it’s colder than shit!” I didn’t really want to point out that it was quite mild actually. Well, he is a big lad. They play country music with some hellacious guitar work from John Osborne. His fingers are a blur as they fly across the fretboard, and his slide work… oh my! Hits like ‘Rum’, ‘Stay A Little Longer’, and the award winning ‘It Ain’t My Fault’ are all met with huge cheers from the crowd, who easily recognise them. Something tells me that when they return in May, the ‘sold out’ signs will be up.
The Cadillac Three are the perfect example of how relentless touring can benefit a band. Opening act slots leading to headlining club shows, and now, sold out sizeable venues. The United Kingdom, in particular, have taken to The Cadillac Three in a big way. Making the transition from second stage to main stage at Download Festival with ease, the down to earth, blue collar trio from Nashville are now big business over here, and rightly so. Hence, the production is bigger; the lights, the backdrop, the set-up… much bigger. Drummer Neil Mason is perched up high on his riser, lap-steel guitarist Kelby Ray is over on the other side on a riser of his own, and prowling the space in between is Jaren Johnston with one of his many, many incredible guitars. Seriously, I’m not a collector or a connoisseur, but I was salivating each time the guitar tech would rush on with another beauty… and that Flying V was pretty damn tasty.
The mammoth 21 song set kicked off on a low-key note, with the smooth vibes of ‘Peace, Love & Dixie’. For any other band this might seem like a subdued way to kick off a set, but this is The Cadillac Three, and they tend to do things a little differently… like not visiting current album ‘Legacy’ until at least six songs into the set. By the time that the sublime ‘Hank & Jesus’ caresses our psyche, the band have plowed through the likes of ‘Slide’, ‘Soundtrack To A Six Pack’, and a glorious version of ‘Tennessee Mojo’. ‘Legacy’ is represented by the aforementioned ‘Hank & Jesus’, as well as ‘Long Hair Don’t Care’, ‘Tennessee’, the soaring ‘American Slang’, and the one that surely everyone can identify with… ’Dang If We Didn’t’. That’s one of the main reasons that TC3 have such a strong following over here, they write simple songs that people can see themselves in. Jaren Johnston is an in-demand songwriter for that very reason. He can take a very personal song like ‘White Lightning’ and make it resonate with folks, not just in Tennessee, but miles away in Europe. It’s the perfect example of a simple love song without all the schmaltz. Johnston’s love note to his wife, blended with the vivid imagery of American icons like Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe and… The Dukes Of Hazzard! Their warm and likeable personas are there for all to see. Drummer Neil Mason takes his bows after ‘Graffiti’ when Johnston points out that it was Mason that wrote this polished gem of a song, and as Kelby Ray launches into a storming lap steel guitar solo, Johnston walks off, grabs a beer, then comes back and sits on the edge of the stage to watch. The solo from Ray is incredible, and if you ever thought that someone couldn’t shred on a lap steel guitar, you are wrong brother! Throw in a stunning tribute to Malcolm Young, with Ray playing the famous intro to ‘Thunderstruck’ before he set off on his solo, and you have one of the highlights on a night of many.
There’s only one way to finish a show from The Cadillac Three, and that is of course with the roof-raising singalong ‘The South’. Fists are raised in the air, plastic pint glasses are chucked skywards, high fives are left, right and centre… and somewhere in amongst all this chaos are “Three hillbillies from Tennessee” looking on in amazement. The Cadillac Three: they came, they saw, they conquered… and they got drunk!
Review: Dave Stott
Images: Dave Jamieson