Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason & Kelby Ray, the Nashville trio who collectively make up The Cadillac Three, have set their sights on the big league.
With their 3rd full length release, ‘Legacy’, under their proverbial belts reaching a respectable #16 on the UK charts, it’s evident the road dog work ethic is beginning to pay off.
From multiple headline tours and festival performances the across the breadth of the country, the band have firmly established themselves on British soil. Their rising popularity is reinforced by the 8 date UK leg of the European tour which sees the band promoted from the venues from their previous tour back in November.
The aptly named ‘Long Hair Don’t Care’ tour, with support from fellow Nashville based musicians Brothers Osborne, rolled into Manchester for the evenings performance at the Academy.
Arriving on stage in unison at 9:15pm, the band began the evening’s proceedings with a warmly welcomed, heavier rendition of ‘Peace, Love & Dixie’ demonstrating just how effortlessly the band can change up what is otherwise a straight up southern rock song to accommodate a more raucous live setting.
Standing before the familiar ‘Long Hair Don’t Care’ tour backdrop the band has mastered how to fully utilise such a big stage space with only the 3 members to occupy. Jaren takes his position centre stage, with Kelby to the right elevated on a riser which is where he’s situated for most of the set alongside his lap steel, with Neil occupying the opposing side of the stage on drums.
The first portion of the nearly 2hr set consisted of a concoction of tracks taken from all 3 albums, including ‘Hank & Jesus’ taken from their latest release ‘Legacy’. Throughout the 21 track set it’s evident how the band have evolved within the live setting; naturally juxtaposing tempo charged tracks such as ‘Im Rockin’ & the anthemic ‘Tennessee Mojo’ with substantially more delicate tracks ‘Hank & Jesus’ & the introspective ‘White Lightning’.
A mere few songs in and Jaren’s showmanship had truly shone through amongst the Manchester crowd, commanding everyone in attendance to participate and be part of the band for the evening.
Following the well received ‘Back It Up’ Jaren took time out to declare to the adoring fans that this was to be The Cadillac Three’s biggest headlining show to date; appearing before 2,500 eager fans ready to bask in southern rock opulence. The latest single‘Long Hair Don’t Care’ went down a storm, with the relaxed, laid back groove resulting in many hips shaking amongst the audience members.
Highlights of the blinding set came from the stripped back, emotive ‘Runnin’ Red Lights’ which saw Jaren perform solo; introduced with an anecdote about drinking tea and eating crumpets before dedicating it to his wife Evelyn. Jaren, stood before the capacity crowd, appeared as animated and at ease performing solo; delivering an exceptional vocal performance with a large percentage of the audience echoing his every word.
A new cut ‘Take Me To The Bottom’, on record illustrates the band’s capabilities to stray from the honky tonk southern rock notions the band have since become known for, in favour of a more mainstream sound. However, in a live setting it surprisingly compliments the other material, with the band giving it more depth and edge.
Earlier in the day the rock world had a dark cloud loom over as the passing of AC/DC’s former guitarist and founder Malcolm Young was announced. In honour of this the band conjured up a brief tribute with Kelby showcasing his sheer and technical talent performing the intro to ‘Thunderstruck’ on lap steel, a truly mesmerising moment.
It seems TC3 can do no wrong, with each visit their popularity seems to be on the rise. After a the electric set it’s apparent just why there’s such widespread love for the trio. Legacy’ has only been out a mere 3 months yet the reaction the cuts from the album got you’d easily be fooled into thinking it was older. The amalgamation of hard rock, southern rock and country the band possesses works so cohesively & is in part instrumental in their success; appealing to a wider demographic.
In typical fashion the band concluded their phenomenal set with their staple track, ‘The South’, which was met with huge appraisal with what seemed like everyone chanting back “This is where I was born, this is where I’ll die”.
For three Nashvillians who stray from the country norm in their native city, they’ve well and truly honed their own sound which they execute in an impeccable fashion within a live setting.
The set-list was …
Peace, Love & Dixie
Hank & Jesus
Back It Up
Long Hair Don’t Care
Bury Me In My Boots
Drunk Like You
Runnin’ Red Lights
Whiskey Soaked Redemption
Take Me To The Bottom
Damn If We Didn’t
Soundtrack To A Six Pack
Days Of Gold