Hootie & the Blowfish are back. Following a ten-year break, they reformed in 2018 and have a new album due out soon. On 12th October, their tour of the UK & Ireland hit London. The date, although not sold out, was pretty close, and seeing as Brad Paisley was at the O2 Arena the same night, it was pretty good going.
Support was in the form of Patrick Davis, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter normally seen in the US with his band Midnight Choir, along with Drivin N Cryin, a southern hard-rock band out of Atlanta, Georgia. I enjoyed Davis’s set, which was rather amusingly interspersed with him checking the score of the South Carolina Gamecocks match against Georgia (College football, for those who are interested), and was left wanting more – someone I will be checking out and would recommend to anyone who likes the simpler more Americana-style output from Nashville. I found Drivin N Cryin a bit of an odd choice. They were heavier than you would expect, and I found their lyrics a little unimaginative. The rest of the audience didn’t seem to mind, and were receptive to them, applauding enthusiastically after each song – definitely a matter of personal taste.
At about 9pm and following a spoken introduction, which sounded like Samuel L Jackson to me, Hootie & the Blowfish took the stage and were straight into ‘Hannah Jane’ from ‘Cracked Rear View’ and ‘State your Peace’ from ‘Looking for Lucky’, much to the crowd’s delight. They then took it up another level when they invited Keith Urban, who was in town, to join them on stage for an entertaining version of ‘Mustang Sally’.
They continued with the covers with ‘I Go Blind’ from their 2000 covers album ‘Scattered, Smothered and Covered’ before they first spoke to the audience. With 21 years since they were last in London, they were excited to be playing a venue with as much history as the Hammersmith Apollo and they promised many songs from the now 25-year-old ‘Cracked Rear View’, along with a few from ‘Fairweather Johnson’.
With fan favourites such as ‘Hold My Hand’, ‘Let Her Cry’ – which featured full crowd sing-a-longs – mixed with a few more covers, including R.E.M.’s ‘Losing My Religion’, a couple of Darius Rucker’s solo songs and stories about how a few were written as well as crediting R.E.M. with their existence, they impressively filled two hours.
No matter what some people’s opinion of the band is, you can’t say they didn’t give you your money’s worth. It was a great night, and I don’t regret spending more than I usually would for a gig ticket. My only complaint would be they didn’t play my favourite song – I guess I’ll have to wait for ‘Musical Chair’s 25th anniversary. One can hope.