I was certainly expecting tonight’s The White Buffalo show to be pretty quiet as far as crowd sizes are concerned. Not only were Tyketto playing next door, but former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes is appearing at the Garage, and inventors of heavy metal, Black Sabbath are playing their final ever show in Scotland. By the time I arrive, fans are already queuing around the corner to pack the venue, and already I’m noticing what a varied crowd it is. Young and old, from all walks of life, and as I’d guessed, plenty of SAMCRO fans, but more on that later.
Tonight’s support comes from Jarrod Dickenson. Standing alone on stage, the soft spoken, well dressed Texan introduces himself whilst many of the crowd are too busy chatting to notice. Performing a blend of country, blues and American folk, and switching between acoustic and electric guitar, he gradually wins the crowd over with his well-crafted songs. Numbers like “Rosalie”, with its gentle rolling fingerpicked guitar and soothing vocal, hush the crowd and are a delight to hear. Dickenson informs us it would be un-Texan of him to not sing us a cowboy song, so he does. Midway through said song, he jokes that there should be a harmonica solo, but he forgot his harmonica, so we’ll have to imagine it. It gets plenty of laughs as he attempts to whistle a substitute. There’s some deadpan humour too, as Jarrod announces he has a new album coming out. There is a single whoop from the crowd. “That’s exciting to me and two others”, he quips, “I know you’re probably tired of hearing all the old hits by now”. More laughter breaks the silence, and we’re treated to some cuts from the forthcoming release. His beautiful Gibson 335 guitar shimmers under the smooth crooning of one particular ballad. It’s a perfect blend, and extremely relaxing. There’s time for a cover version, Harlon Howards “Busted”, made famous by Johnny Cash and Ray Charles, and a final jazzy blues number before his time is up. It’s no easy task to step out on stage in a country far from home, with no backing band as a safety net, in front of people that may never have heard of you before, but Jarrod managed it splendidly. He is performing in Glasgow again on the 18th of March, and I, for one, will definitely be there.
Jake Smith, better known as The White Buffalo, hails from California and found fame when he performed a handful of songs on the soundtrack to the TV show Sons Of Anarchy. His edgy outlaw country style, mixed with dark lyrical themes, was perfect for the show about the rebel motorcycle club. Picked up by Earache records in the UK, he is on tour as the label sets about releasing his back catalogue, following the success of his last album “Love & The Death Of Damnation”. Flanked by a drummer and bassist, the White Buffalo takes the stage to a righteous applause as he begins with “Radio With No Sound”. With its sweet piano part, played by his bassist, it strolls along as gently as a lullaby before the band explode into “Hold The Line”. It’s a hefty slab of country punk that triggers plenty of whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ from the crowd. The White Buffalo stomps around the stage hammering out chords from his acoustic guitar, as thundering drums and a solid steady thump from the bass get the audience dancing.
It’s easy to see how many people first heard about The White Buffalo when he plays “Come Join The Murder” from the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack. Suddenly, every smartphone in the building seems to be out filming the performance. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of fans of the show and SAMCRO (the acronym for the show’s biker club, as if you already didn’t know). “I Got You”, one of my favourite songs from last year, is obviously a highlight, despite not having Audra Mae present to complete the duet. Smith handles both parts in his deep husky voice, and it’s a delight to hear it soar towards the end of the song. The crowd lap it up, and show their appreciation with more cheering and screaming. After a rousing “Home Is In Your Arms” Smith notices the huge mirror ball suspended from the ABC’s ceiling. “Let’s fire that fucker up”, the ABC does not disappoint, and as it spins, the venue is showered in thousands of lights for a brief moment, before it’s on with more music. “Joe And Jolene” features one hell of a drum solo that has the crowd at fever pitch. There are plenty of ups and downs as Smith follows the raucous number with the macabre ballad “The Whistler”, a tale about an ex-soldier that struggles to not be a killer. The whole show is an exhilarating performance. 23 songs in just under 2 hours. Choosing to let the music do the talking, Smith rarely speaks, but when he does, it’s with genuine surprise and gratitude at how well he is received. As “Love Song #1” is played during the encore, there is the sense that Smith is leaving us with a slow ballad. Oh no, not at all. The crowd are whipped into a fury as the band belts out “How The West Was Won”, the title track from the first of the re-issues. Smith brandishes his acoustic like a weapon as they hurtle through the song. Smith is a genuine craftsman of fine songs, a troubadour and teller of great stories through his music. With many of the outlaw country heroes now dead, long live the White Buffalo.
Review: Colin Plumb
Images: David Jamieson