Published on May 30th, 2019 | by Nigel Cartner0
Whiskey Myers – O2 Ritz, Manchester – 23rd May 2019 Live Review
Like a band of feared gunslingers armed with their instruments of choice, Whiskey Myers strolled onto the O2 Ritz stage in Manchester with one purpose in mind – to shoot us all down in a blaze of riff-ridden glory.
The aptly named, ‘Die Rockin’, tour began in January, and the Manchester show marked a middle point of the mammoth seven-month excursion that has seen Europe sandwiched between two demanding US legs.
The ‘Magnificent Seven’, comprising of up to four guitarists (inc vocalist) and two drummers showcased their impressive back catalogue of boisterous deep southern rock to a majority older rocker crowd, who were there to support the modern-day pioneers of a style of music made famous from a past era. The band themselves are the quintessential image of the genre: long hair, cowboy hats, long beards, waistcoats, looking more like outlaws than rock stars, although some may argue they are two sides of the same coin.
Cody Cannon is the charismatic front man, and his t-shirt that pictured Willie Nelson emphasised their Texan roots. As soon as the first guitar strings reverberated on opener, ‘Frogman’, those roots were underpinned as the raw and raucous nature of their musicianship, complete with raspy, cutthroat vocals, harked back to a golden age of the country/blues rock genre.
The opening few songs were loud and lively, saturated with blistering whisky ridden craftsmanship born out of the fires of a derelict distillery. ‘Early Morning Shakes’ is one of the personal highlights in this early onslaught. With a nod to Led Zeppelin, there’s an innate swagger to the tune that inspires confidence – the sort of track you play when gearing up for a big moment in life. The added Ted Nugent-esque style solo thrown in mid-way through the track changed the direction to a slower, psychedelic pace, breathing a new dynamic into an already commanding anthem that showcased some phenomenal guitar arrangements from Cody Tate.
The songs continued to impress and dazzle in the same merciless vein, with the well-known, ‘Headstone’ serving to impress the appreciative crowd. These heavier tracks were interspersed with slower ballads from time to time to give the audience a respite from the slab of avant-garde rock thrust upon them. There’s no secret formula to Whiskey Myers’ Texan groove. They switch between the hard-hitting, foot stomping, riff-tastic concoctions, similar to the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top, and then move to the softer, poignant southern inspired ballads that tug at the heart strings. ‘Ballad of a Southern Man’ and ‘Stone’ epitomised this wistful, bourbon-drenched southern charm and finesse that could serenade the most guarded of individuals into a well of vulnerability.
As the show moved towards its crescendo, we were treated to stalwart renditions of ‘How Far’ and ‘Home’, where the guitar on the latter growled like a car engine revving into overdrive, leading to one of the two drummers launching himself to the front of the stage, dancing like an out of control hoedown was taking place whilst battering a cowbell. We always need more cow bell. All this roared towards a fitting finale that culminated with an exceptionally delivered cover of Neil Young’s timeless hit, ‘Rockin in the Free World’, which was made all the better by the crowd belting back the lyrics, like they had done on many songs throughout the gig.
The near two-hour show was one of the most compelling performances I’d see in this American born genre. Songs relentlessly followed on from one another like precision bombs hitting their mark. The set was jam-packed with exceptional riffs that could serve as a lesson to any aspiring guitarist, but when all the instruments were played in swashbuckling harmony, it sounded irresistible, especially on new song, ‘Bitch’ (I think this was the name), showing just how accomplished Whiskey Myers are as a set of musicians. This is one band you need to check out, either through their impressive back catalogue or through one of their spirited and ballsy performances.