Live: Cadillac Three @ Islington Academy

The Cadillac Three – O2 Islington Academy

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

Singing along at a gig is a strange phenomenon isn’t it?  We all pay hard earned cash to go and see a band we like, and rather than listen politely and earnestly to them sing, we stand there and have a go at the songs ourselves (in my case generally pretty badly).  But having spent an evening in the company of The Cadillac Three and the “Islington Academy Choir” tonight it becomes obvious why we all do it.  At the end of the night there’s a bond and camaraderie created between band and audience that’s hard to beat.  In fact tonight it was so good that the band stopped playing their final song, the anthemic The South and let the crowd take over, and they were still singing some time after the band had left the stage.  This was definitely good time sing along southern rock and roll at its best.

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The last time I saw Cadillac Three was in early 2014 co-headlining with the Graveltones, and its great to see how they’ve developed their show into a much more rock based set since then.  “We love it over here.  You guys really GET loud music” proclaims lead singer Jaren Johnston before launching into Tennessee Mojo a monster swaggering slide guitar driven song from their 2014 album of the same name.  Its difficult to see how they can be marketed in the US (and on iTunes) as a country act, and their rock style certainly seems to have found them a bigger following in the UK than in their home country.

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The set kicks off in high-octane style with an extended version of Days of Gold, originally written by Jaren Johnston for US country star Jake Owen (having listened to it, its actually an excellent song in both versions!).  But this is no lighthearted hoedown opener, this is a proper rocked up version with a real drive behind it provided by Neil Mason on drums and Kelby Ray sat down behind the lap steel guitar.  The importance of the drum groove becomes apparent half way through as Jaren loses the guitar, and leaps up on the drum riser to play an energetic co-solo with Neil which lasts a good few minutes and giving us photographers in the pit some great photo opportunities.

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

“We don’t bother with a set list taped toe floor here ‘cos we’re gonna play what we feel like playing” proclaims Jaren.  And more than once its clear that the band are having a conference about what’s up next, and what’s going to suit the energy of the night.  A lot of the songs come from the aforementioned Tennessee Mojo album with tracks including Peace Love and Dixie, I’m Southern, Back it Up and the mellow Whiskey Soaked Redemption, definitely one of music’s best drinking songs.  That said, its not all rock and roll and there’s still hints at the bands country-rock leanings on tracks such as Party like You, Life and the crowd pleasing favorite White Lightning which comes complete with the band toasting the audience with proper southern moonshine (well that’s what they said it was!!).

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

But ultimately an evening with Cadillac Three is all about a good old fashioned rock and roll show like they used to make them.  Some of the songs aren’t that complicated because they don’t need to be to get the crowd fired up, and that sing-a-long vibe that puts a smile on everyone’s face.   By the time they get to the set closer of The South, from my position stage right I can see a wall of people at the front singing every word of every track and generally having exactly the sort of time you always want to have at a gig but often never get.

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

The Cadillac Three dishing out some classic southern rock, Tennessee style. (Andy Sampson)

This was the last date in the UK, and by the time you read this, they’ll be in the US for a while, but they’re back touring here in late January and February.  I’m getting my vocal chords ready and getting my ticket.  If you want a feel-good way to escape the Winter gloom , I’d advise you to do the same

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The Cadillac Three – O2 Islington Academy. Monday 9th November 2015

Photography & Review by Andy Sampson. Andy also has his own website at www.soundritualphotos.co.uk

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