Atlanta based southern rock outfit, Blackberry Smoke, were back in London last month as part of their European tour. Having already played over here a few times, Shepherds Bush Empire was filled to capacity with rock and country fans alike.
Having supported big country acts such as Zac Brown Band and Eric Church in the US, the country/rock line is very blurred. As country grows bigger in the UK and becomes more accepted, hopefully more bands like this will travel across the pond to play shows here and the word country won’t scare people away. With a sound loud enough to keep any rock fan happy, Blackberry Smoke kept the foot stomping crowd entertained.
Support came from 16 year old Aaron Keylock, a name to keep an eye out for in the future. Having seen him before opening for The Cadillac Three, I was excited to see him again on a bigger stage. He didn’t disappoint! He has been compared to the legendary Rory Gallagher, and when you see him play the guitar, you can see why. The crowd were very receptive, especially during his explosive solos.
After a short break and a stage reset, Blackberry Smoke took to the stage. The venue was packed, with the crowd, singing, foot stomping and clapping along, giving the band a great welcome, opening with Like I Am. With songs from their most recent 2 albums, the band carried the crowd along with catchy choruses, rocking guitar riffs and excellent solos.
Charlie Starr’s voice continued to shine through all set long and so did the rest of the band on their respected instruments. With the crowd not wanting the band to leave, they came back for an encore before finishing the gig for the evening and sending their fans home buzzing.
Words and photography by Helen Parish