Live Review: The Autumn Saints, The Troubadour, London – 22nd February 2024

Picture by Danny Clifford

I guess, like many people, I have quite a wide and eclectic taste in music. I grew up on the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Yes, Sam & Dave, Johan Strauss, Status Quo, Chopin and many other brilliant musicians and bands. But as a music photographer, when I go and shoot a new artist or band, it’s always rather exciting to suddenly think, hold on, these are rather good!  Over the past few decades, I have seen and heard hundreds, if not thousands, of bands or artists whilst taking photos of them. I have to say that there have been many occasions when I photographed some support bands, and I think, well, what’s so good about you? Usually, not a lot. Then, every so often, I would hear one and think, oh yes, he, she or they are really good. I don’t claim to have the ears of an A&R person at a record label, but, funnily enough, quite a few of these bands/artists that I thought would go onto big things have. So, when I was commissioned to do a shoot with a band I knew virtually nothing about, an Indie Americana group called The Autumn Saints, I wasn’t expecting too much. However, once I met them, I realised I could tick one box immediately, as they were lovely people with no egos or awkwardness during our shoot. I chatted with the band and found out more about them. The lead singer, Britt Strickland, is not British; he is from North Carolina, USA, and has a rich and smoky southern drawl that you don’t hear much in the UK.  I always found these accents spellbinding when I would be on tour with artists around the southern states of the USA. Brit writes about the Appalachian Mountains and his observations growing up in the beautiful state of North Carolina. Lyrically brilliant and musically thrilling, this band are a breath of fresh air.

The Autumn Saints are based in Oxford, UK and is made up of four guys: Britt Strickland (bass), David Ireland (guitar), Martin Gallagher (drums) and Nick Bennett (Hammond organ, lap steel, harmonica & harmonies). After my afternoon shooting them, I had heard enough from them that made me want to see them live. So, a month or two later, that’s exactly what I did. Again, it was in the countryside, this time in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, to be precise. The local crowd soon realised what they were witnessing. For me to describe them would be moving, melodic and, at times, hauntingly and freakishly brilliant music, which will more than likely play a big part in some epic films or TV shows. When you hear them, you will know what I mean.

I was pleased to find out they had been signed to Man in The Moon Records and their first album, ‘Wind Burn & Broken Oak’, is out. I wasn’t surprised that they played at Glastonbury Festival last summer. Then, The Isle of Wight Festival. Straight from there, they were asked to open for the brilliant Long Ryders around parts of the UK. You wouldn’t be wrong to think The Autumn Saints are on the up and a band to see and hear live. The main man at the record label is a music business veteran and legend, Nick Stuart (aka The Colonel), yes, the man who signed U2 and many others. He is rightfully very excited about one of his latest signings, The Autumn Saints. He and The Autumn Saints have recorded a wonderful EP called ‘Just Might Be Thunder’.

Picture by Danny Clifford

So, The Autumn Saints performed the songs from their EP on the 22nd of February 2024 at the world-famous Troubadour in London. It’s a venue I love going to. Funnily enough, one of my old bosses, Bob Dylan, played his first London shows at the Troubadour. So, it’s quite appropriate that The Autumn Saints played their fabulous rendition of ‘Billy 4’, a Dylan song, at a venue where he performed, and I was his official photographer. Spooky huh! No, not really, I hear you say. So many other big names have played in this cosy little venue. The EP has the Autumn Saints’ fabulous versions of songs by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The War on Drugs, The National, Freddie King, and The Band. When I first worked with The Kings of Leon in the mid-2000s, I thought, wow, they had something quite special, and refreshingly, there is a good helping of a similar delivery of pure southern comfort when you see and hear the uber-cool Autumn Saints.

The Autumn Saints were supported by a Kitty Noble, another one to watch. She played a short solo set on guitar and piano. Like The Autumn Saints, she is very talented and has no inflated ego.  Therefore, perfectly suited to support the Autumn Saints. The Troubadour is a small venue, but it was packed, and I couldn’t help noticing some of the audience, wearing Autumn Saints T-shirts, singing along, knowing all the words, which is a very good sign!

As I mentioned, the Troubadour has had some rather superb artists on its small stage, and tonight, it was the turn of the quite brilliant Indie Americana four-piece The Autumn Saints. For me, they have now ticked all the boxes. So, if you want to hear some new and quite thrilling Americana, you would be well advised to buy a copy of their album and their new EP and get to see these humble and extremely talented guys live somewhere soon before they explode.

This review was originally published on Danny Clifford’s Substack website. As a world-renowned Rock and Roll photographer, Danny Clifford has spent his illustrious career as a ‘fly on the wall’ to the most iconic musical artists of the last 40 years. From his big break, aged 20, as Bob Dylan’s official photographer in the late 1970s, through his close working relationships with Queen, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse (to name but a handful) the stories he has amassed over the years are just as vivid, colourful and dramatic as his photographs. You can read more of his adventures here.

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