Not so much a headliner plus support act, this combination of Alabama and Australia was more of a rock’n’roll revue show with the musicians variously appearing, leaving and then reappearing on stage throughout the night. Sure enough, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes played the opening set but towards the end of this first half, things started to get more fluid. As Alabama born Hannah Aldridge explained later on, this musical caravan had been mixing it up since they hit UK shores a few weeks ago and they were having great fun doing so. Having The Wildes as her backing band certainly allowed Aldridge to indulge in some frantic and extremely loud rocking out and The Wildes’ guitarist, Riley Catherall had an opportunity to promote his own solo album. All in all, the evident joy of the musicians was shared by the audience who were treated to almost two and a half hours of excellence from acoustic ballads to swampy southern steaminess and all points in between.
While Aldridge had her local “congregation” out in full force, Bryan was perhaps new to most of the crowd but a blistering set, stuffed full of memorable songs alongside some very humorous stories, many regarding his Glasgow heritage (Bryan’s family emigrated from Glasgow, en masse, to Australia in the 1950s) soon had the audience eating out of his hand. Opening with a brace of songs from their latest album, ‘As Long As It’s Not Us’, The Wildes powered into a groove which reminded your reviewer of prime time Chuck Prophet – the songs snappy and jangled power pop with a whole lot of guitar crunch. From the off, Catherall commanded attention as he fired off some stinging guitar notes towards the end of ‘As Long As It’s Not Us’ and then powered into the swamp like intro to ‘I Went Down’, Bryan’s clever take on murder ballads. The swamp was then dredged deeper as the band delved into their backwaters on a tremendous delivery of ‘Portrait Of An Artist As A Middle Aged Man’. There was also an incendiary version of ‘309′, a song which riffs on Dylan’s ‘Hollis Brown’, which had the band playing with all the fire and fury one associates with Dylan plugging into the mains and wigging out with The Hawks.
Taking a break from his twang duties, Riley Catherall, along with Wildes’ bassist, Shaun Ryder, sang ‘The Ferryman’, written by the pair and the title song of his album. More attuned to LA Asylum Records singer/songwriter days, it showed another side to him which deserves investigating. Back on stage, Bryan delivered what was probably the most affecting song of the night, ‘I Hope That You Must’, a song written in the wake of #MeToo, to a hushed audience with Catherall’s slide guitar perfectly attuned to the low key beauty of the song.
Heading to the end of their set, Bryan offered a fairly hilarious tale regarding his grandfather which prefaced a jaunty version of ‘Black Coffee’ before bringing Hannah Aldridge on stage to sing with him on the voodoo laced ‘Dugdemona’, a harbinger of what was to come in the second set.
Aldridge was backed by three quarters of the Wildes (Bryan on keyboards, Catherall and drummer Erik Lundinen) alongside her bassist, Gustav Sjödin while she and Sjödin also played a couple of acoustic numbers. Having a fully fledged rock band behind her allowed Aldridge to indulge in her love for loud southern rock, a fine vehicle for her menagerie of songs about vampires , ghouls, damnation and redemption. However, there were several moments when her voice was lost amidst the sometime cacophonous howls of the band, a minor quibble really as the jolt was quite exhilarating. ‘You Ain’t Worth The Fight’, ‘Aftermath’ and the spooky ‘Dark Hearted Woman’ were tremendous openers, squalling guitars and all, but an excellent rendition of ‘Living On Lonely’ which reined in the rock and concentrated on the vocal harmonies was quite sublime, even though Aldridge joked after that it might be a bit too much “Eagles like” for Bryan. A haunting ‘Goldrush’, accompanied by Catherall , and a new song, co-written with Bryan and played by Aldridge and Sjödin, showed that, stripped of the rock trappings, Aldridge is a powerful performer.
Apparently Aldridge and Bryan have been sharing their shared appreciation of Warren Zevon throughout the tour and tonight Glasgow was given an excellent rendition of ‘Carmelita’, a rendition that was much appreciated before the band launched into their riotous closing songs. ‘No Heart Left Behind’ was quite the barnstormer and another new co-write with Bryan (about the infamous Black Dahlia murder) was a gothic melodrama. It ran into an outrageously over the top delivery of ‘Lace’, a roiling and glorious mess of squalling guitars and feedback with Aldridge screaming as if into an abyss. How to follow that? An encore of course as all the players assembled for a fun fuelled audience participation rendition of ‘Burning Down Birmingham’. A great end to a great night with Aldridge defiantly rocking out and Lachlan Bryan hopefully gaining a whole set of new fans.