Monday, 7 March 2016

The Bros. Landreth - Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Sunday 6th March 2016

One footnote from tonight’s hugely impressive gig is the pondering thought that all intended folks for the original venue made the couple of miles detour at the ‘eleventh hour’. It would have been a massive shame for anyone to miss out as this Oobleck gig was hastily re-scheduled to the Hare and Hounds barely eight hours before the first band hit the stage. The message though had got out to a vibrant gathering of gig goers and at eight o’clock they were on the cusp of witnessing an exceptional performance. By eleven, The Bros. Landreth had laid their cards on the table and one incredible band had announced their arrival on the UK live music scene. Of course this reaction had been happening on all the preceding eight or nine dates of this inaugural nationwide tour and there is little chance of this four-piece Winnipeg based band being kept a secret.

Happy to share their wares with a standing audience literally a stride from the stage spurred the guys on as they let rip through a bulk of their award winning debut album and a smart selection of choice covers nailing their influences right to the mast. Junior brother Joey led the way with an exhilarating exhibition of electric guitar virtuosity heavily influenced by a slide playing style. Every known note was seemingly extracted as the four musicians on stage morphed into the embodiment of a top notch exemplar band.  Elder brother David held court on bass and contributed significantly on harmony vocals. The percussion of Cody Iwasuik kept immaculate time, while Darryl Havers added the finesse with a sumptuous keyboard display. The result was an accentuated amalgam of classic country rock, rampant roots, spine tingling soul and fiery folk for the modern age.

LET IT LIE is the perfect example of a debut album gathering momentum. Independently released in Canada in 2013, it found a wider North American audience courtesy of Slate Creek Records, before hitting great heights in 2015 with a coveted Juno award for the Best Roots and Traditional Album. 2016 sees the record still finding new homes as the band build on their solitary UK date last year with a current nationwide gig roll out.  Those who have raved about the track ‘Runaway Train’ would be left drooling with the live version as Darryl needed little invitation to move through the keyboard gears. Elsewhere from the album we were spoiled with super servings of ‘Firecracker’, ‘Let it Lie’, ‘Made up Mind’ and ‘Tappin’ on the Glass’. ‘I am the Fool’ made a great case for following in the slip stream of the aforementioned standout track, although others would strongly argue for the mesmerising five minutes the band spent around that iconic single mic. This demanded a pin drop sound environment as, accompanied solely by soft guitar and blessed harmonies from his colleagues, Joey evocatively sang ‘Greenhouse’.

From a covers angle, The Bros. Landreth served up a delight of cutting treats. Opening with the popular Wings number ‘Let ‘Em In’ was a pleasant surprise and there was a hearty vocal accompaniment from the audience when a version of The Band’s ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ closed the encore. Other interesting inclusions were the excellent ‘Jesus on the Mainline’ by Ry Cooder and a rendition of John Hiatt’s ‘Alone in the Dark’. The latter was one of many great songs introduced to the brothers by their musician father Wally. Whether sharing the gifts of their original material or adding value to inspired covers, this tight knit band extolled many virtues and possess an innate knack of letting their music create a special ambient atmosphere.

Prior to The Bros. Landreth excelling in the headline slot, two other acts were given half an hour to warm the audience up on this chilly evening. Local singer-songwriter Guy Jones played an engaging solo set to commence the show and followed up a fine performance he delivered when opening at the nearby Kitchen Garden Café last year. Five piece rock band Klassside left their highly charged electric guitars at home for the evening to play a predominately acoustic set, albeit not short of fiery passion. The link between this Midlands based band and the headliners was explained by the lead guitarist's association with Wally Landreth across the miles via the World Wide Web.

Both supporting acts played a decent role in setting the main event up. However The Bros. Landreth wasted little time in making their mark and a privilege of seeing a band play a venue way below their potential was not taken for granted. Not that the brothers showed any airs and graces, fully appreciative of any number of music fans preparing to take a chance on a relatively unknown band. In reality this was far from a ‘gig goers’ gamble as The Bros. Landreth starkly demonstrated they are a force to be reckoned and a band massively armed with a potential to die for. The detour from Digbeth to Kings Heath was not going to deter this or many other fan. 

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