This was the London show on the current UK triple headline tour by three legendary live bands rotating who headlines, and the London show had Dan Baird and Homemade Sin in the top spot with The Kentucky Headhunters opening the evening. It’s great to have seen Dan Baird slowly build his live following from Homemade Sin shows in London with The Quireboys at The Borderline in 2008, to filling Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which is almost as good as headlining The Town & Country Club like his old band The Georgia Satellites did.
I have to admit to not knowing too much about The Kentucky Headhunters despite them having a history that goes back to the 60s, but what was clear from the opening Dixy Lullaby was that they are a supremely tight southern blues rock bar band of the highest order who looked like they were having an absolute ball playing for us.
Both Young Brothers, Fred and Richard were having a whale of a time on Chitlin’ Time, pulling some great faces to go with the playing, and Fred managed to keep his Davy Crockett hat on for most of the set. One of the real high spots for me was Rag Top – a great driving blues song. There was also a spot on version of Freddie King’s Have You Ever Loved A Woman that had a brilliant solo in it from Richard Young. The brilliant Dumas Walker was one of the real highlights of the set (and let’s face it we all like songs about marbles champions!). The biggest sing along however was for Davy Crockett who’s still king of the wild frontier.
I then got to finally see Jason And the Scorchers for a second time some 30 odd years since the last time and they didn’t disappoint as being one of the best cowpunk bands of all time. Jason Ringenburg has lost none of his flair as a great frontman and that was clear from the opening song Lost Highway, as he lurched over the stage and helped The Scorchers make this classic song their own.
Help There’s A Fire was urgent and had some fiery guitar from Warner E Hodges who was playing his first set of the night. Last Time Around seemed tinged with a small amount of regret balanced with the immense joy they all seemed to be having playing for us. Jason did his full-on preacher routine for Bible And A Gun, which sounded magnificent with drummer Pontus Snibb (who I’m more used to seeing fronting Bonafide) really locking horns with Al Collins’ super fluid bass playing. Of course, everyone sang along to Moonshine Guy still one of my favourite Scorchers songs.
My Kingdom For A Car seemed to flash by with some really cool guitar from Warner. Harvest Moon took things down a notch or two but sounded very poignant. They made Absolutely Sweet Marie their own and it was hard to keep your eyes off Jason and the moves he was making while singing and strumming his acoustic guitar.
Warner stepped up to the microphone to sing Better Than This while still playing some blistering guitar before Jason came back out for a real blast through Broken Whiskey Glass that had a few smashing glass noises from Pontus Snibb like his cymbals were made of glass. They closed with everyone singing along to White Lies that had some band intros in it so we could all give them the love they deserved. It was a truly great set that more than deserved an encore, but with each band playing an hour, no one had time for encores.
Dan Baird started his set solo with a very cool version of Another Chance before the rest of Homemade Sin joined him onstage. Warner E Hodges looked totally fresh and ready to rock. As ever, Dan’s old Georgia Satellites bandmate Mauro Magellan is on drums, with Sean Savacool taking up duties on bass (the band’s most interchangeable position, although it is his third UK tour with them so he’s now well established).
As the band fully kicked in for a no nonsense, almost non-stop set they all looked like they were well up for it. Younger Face sounded pretty joyous. Shake Till It’s Sore was played so quickly it was like they were racing each other through it or they had the shakes real bad. Dan gave one of his nods to Mauro, and after he played about the first 3 notes of Damn Thing To Be Done (as usual, playing without a setlist) the rest of the band joined in. The interplay and intuition in this band is a sight to see – they are so fluid and having so much fun doing it with Warner freely spinning his guitar over his shoulder.
All Over But The Crying played at this pace was more of a thank god than a song of regret’ – they were ready to move on and keep running through life looking for someone else to call Little Darlin’ and if they flash the smiles they had while playing it I’m sure her heart will melt. They just about paused for a couple of seconds before Keep Your Hands To Yourself got most of the crowd singing along to it, but not quite as loudly as they did on Mon Cheri as Dan and Warner tried to outdo each other on guitar. This was a much shorter set time than usual, and as they sang On My Way it was clear they didn’t like wasting anyone’s time.
They closed with a really long version of The Georgia Satellites classic Railroad Steel complete with heartfelt and light-hearted introductions and thanks as they blasted towards the venue’s curfew and the end of another great set. This was a great night’s music and a bill that fitted together perfectly!
Live Review by Simon Phillips with Photography by Trudi Knight of Dan Baird and Homemade Sin, Jason And The Scorchers, The Kentucky Headhunters live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 6th September 2019.
Trudi actually photographed the whole tour for all of these bands and you can see more of her photography right here: https://www.bandsonstage.co.uk