It may have only been a Monday night, but all guns were blazing inside The Ruby Lounge, Manchester as two phenomenal bands took to the stage to remind us that blues rock is very much a brand of music that refuses to be left in the past by its former masters. Headline Texan act Whiskey Myers were embarking on a European Tour promoting recent new album ‘Mud’, and Broken Witt Rebels were showing exactly why they were deserving of such a coveted support slot.
Starting with Broken Witt Rebels, the young four-piece from Birmingham gave a very gritty performance that emphasised their own particular style of rock. Two of their more feisty tracks have featured on Sonic Bandwagon Radio over the past year, ‘Georgia Pine’ and ‘Low’, but given that their three EP’s sees more of the same high octane pace, I should imagine more will feature in 2017. Lead singer Danny Core is Britain’s answer to Kings of Leon’s, Caleb Followill, and the band behind him are reminiscent of recent blues rock wonders, Rival Sons. With this support slot, a January slot supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor, and a recent appearance on The Friday Rock Show on Vintage TV, Broken Witt Rebels are looking at being major contenders to be Britain’s next blues rock success. It has just been announced that they will headline the Planet Rock “ROADSTARS” tour in March/April with Bad Touch so they are heading in that direction. Exciting times ahead for this energetic band! They were the perfect way to warm up a packed crowd for the main event.
Dirty, ballsy, raucous blues barrelled up in some fine arse whiskey. That’s Whiskey Myers in a nutshell. The lights go down upon their arrival as they straddle into Manchester with a Wild West swagger armed with the slickest guitars to blow you away. They’re the coolest gang this side of town and the biggest crowd I’ve seen inside The Ruby Lounge await for them to prove it. They coolly stride onstage one by one, and its evident that they aren’t a band from this neck of the woods as cowboy hats, flashy silver buckled belts, long hair, long beards, denim shirts and leather waistcoats are thrown together between the seven musicians. Only horses were missing! They just look like a band, either that or a posse on the run from a crime they most likely committed – outlaws hiding out in Manchester’s premium underground music venues where beer and whiskey flows freely. The Deep South is about to takeover Manchester and we better be prepared for the standoffs and shootouts that’s about to ensue.
They open in typical rambunctious southernality with ‘Early Morning Shakes’, a nod to rock heavyweights, Led Zep’s, ‘When The Levee Breaks’ with its scorching guitars and hammering basslines. They show no signs of slowing down as the cavalier riffage of ‘Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd’ sounds like it could summon the devil himself. Next they launch into new album opener, ‘On The River’ where the first appearance of the fiddle is seen, highlighting the band’s country influences and expansive range, but much like their opening show onslaught, there’s still a feel that a bar room brawl in an unnerving saloon could easily manifest with a carefully planned guitar strum. ‘Broken Window Serenade’ and ‘Virginia’ again show Whiskey Myers’ dynamism, and that they aren’t just a full throttle one trick pony, but instead carry a charm and grace of profound songwriting at its most sensitive.
‘Lightning Bugs and Rain’ isn’t quite as fiery as the show openers, but it’s a track that has fantastic craft and keeps the feet stomping. They don’t leave us waiting long for the big hits to come shooting from their armoury as ‘Mud’, and arguable show highlight, ‘Headstone’, really ignite the fuse once again with a series of heavy drumbeats and basslines working in tandem with brash lip puckering riffs and rhythm. You start to get a sense of the formidable brotherhood and chemistry these guys possess as every song seems like a well thought out classic.
A cover of ‘Seven Nation Army´ is dazzlingly re-imagined in its own southern way, an apt song considering they are a seven strong army themselves, (perhaps that was the irony of covering it) before one of the heavier favourites off the new album ‘Frogman’, is rammed down our throats for good measure. Lead singer Cody Cannon asks for a beer at this point, just to highlight the beer swilling nature of the band’s look and demeanour, but boy does he deserve one with the effort and passion expended so far.
It’s not really a crescendo finish into a southern rock explosion as the show nears its end, as a rich blend of heart wrenching ballads, ‘Ballad of a Southern Man’ and ‘Stone’ intersperse with the rough n tumblin’ piercing guitar tracks of ‘Wild Baby Shake’ and ‘Home’. A two song encore rounds off proceedings, including some well placed cowbell…..we always need more cowbell, and a final barrack of whiskey fuelled rock to finish what was a two hour set, something I’ve never seen before in The Ruby Lounge, but well worth it.
Whiskey Myers are a band that appeal to the devil inside, the devious side to your personality. You can’t help but be caught up in the mêlée of their blood pumping, classic blues rock power. With a gravelly southern twanged vocal working with a band, who’s musicianship is first class, merging influences from Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers, they do an unprecedented job in bringing past greats firmly back into the modern scene with their own brand of whiskey drenched all over it. They bleed every bit of magic from the great music that sits in the Deep South, but carry a swagger befitting of the Wild West. Loud, proud and boisterous with a charismatic charm to surprise you when they express soulful ballads, Whiskey Myers have all the tools required to be a big hit on the blues rock scene. Whiskey by name, whiskey very much by nature!
They will be back in Manchester on the 20th May performing at The Ritz. The upgrade in venue and capacity will certainly make for some stadium like noisy, blues rock of the highest untamed order. This promises to be one hell of a night you can’t miss out on.