“It might get loud in here,” Jesse Dayton’s opening words on arriving on stage for this hotly anticipated gig. He wasn’t kidding. From the moment he and his two sidekicks slammed into Daddy Was A Badass, the bass drum was thumping in my chest while Dayton’s guitar was a direct attack on the eardrums, a cracking start to one of the most energetic shows of the year so far. Holy Ghost Rock’N’Roller followed in similar hi octane fashion, a distorted wall of sound blasting from the stage before the band paused for Jesse to say hello to the crowd, greeting some old friends and their old T-shirts. The Way We Are then lurched into sight, its outlaw country beat loping along with Dayton’s guitar squawking like a chicken at times.
Growing up in Texas, explained Dayton, while everyone else was aping Stevie Ray Vaughan he was learning to play like Jerry Reed, an ability which led to him getting gigs with the likes of Waylon Jennings setting the path for his career. Throughout the night he set up several of his songs with an engaging banter. Possum Ran Over My Grave was introduced with a tale of going to his first ever gig to see George Jones – only Jones didn’t turn up. His co-write with Hayes Carll, 3 Pecker Goat went back to days when the pair of them used to hang about a bar called The Poop Deck with the introduction here quite a hoot.
Aside from his fine stagecraft it was the music that really hit home throughout the night. I may Have To Do It (I Don’t Have To Like It) called for some audience participation and offered another- and I’m sorry but I’m going to use that word- shredding guitar solo. Jenning’s Lonesome, Onry & Mean was given a pugnacious reading while Slim Harpo’s Shake Your Hips got a thorough and rabble rousing going over. There was some more blues on the swampy River Done Rose, written about New Orleans and the Katrina disaster while Ms. Victoria (Beautiful Thing) was the most sensitive song of the night as Dayton spoke and sang of his formative days with an old family maid.
With Christopher Lee Rhoades on bass (switching between stand up and electric) and Kevin Charney drumming, the trio were just magnificent. Charney’s drums the beating heart reverberating around the room while Rhoades and Dayton sparred and threw shapes with Rhoades demonstrating a fine bass fiddle twirl. Dayton commanded the stage, prowling, coming to the lip and leaning into the audience, all the while walloping hell out of his guitar. The sweat was dripping off him two songs in. The band’s biggest cheer of the night was when they launched into I’m at Home Gettin’ Hammered (While She’s Out Gettin’ Nailed), his attempt at a Roger Miller like title, he explained. Anyhow, they hammered into the song and even dropped a little John Lee Hooker into it leaving the fans ecstatic.
There’s still a couple of dates in Ireland and the UK before they head off to Europe so do yourself a favour and get along to one of the best live experiences around right now.
Support tonight was from a stripped down James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band (Edwyn on guitar and vocals, Emma Joyce, vocals and Scott Keenan, keyboards). Edwyn’s strident guitar and powerful voice drove their latest single, Passing San Ysidro, while Try Not To Think Of Now was less insistent with Keenan’s piano leading the way although again, Edwyn’s voice was finely emotive. On Get Back Up the trio found their way into a very comfortable groove that recalled Little Feat at times with Joyce adding some southern soul of her own as she let loose towards the end of the song. All three songs were from their new album, High Fences, but they revisited their debut with a spirited On Meeting The Man In The White Suit allowing Edwyn space to show off some fine flat top picking. Also from their debut album, The Last Waltz was a fine end to their short slot, the chorus, sung by all three, quite affecting.