Orlando Florida (December 31, 2019) – It’s not just any New Year’s Eve, but it’s soon to be the beginning of a new decade. For those that didn’t feel like staying home to watch the ball drop and want to get and hear some southern rock with a dash of country mixed in, there was no better place to be then the House Of Blues in Orlando Florida. Because Blackberry Smoke was here to rock in not just the new year, but the new decade as well with their Till The Wheels Fall Off Tour. Along for the ride are relative newcomers Bishop Gunn.
There is a reason that Rolling Stone magazine said that Bishop Gunn is one of the ten bands to watch back in twenty eighteen. Hailing from Natchez Mississippi this quartet has deftly combined country, blues and that mystical Muscle Shoals sound to something powerful and original. They kicked off their set with “Shine” off their album Natchez. Singer Travis McCready has got the chops for sure to lead a band. Between an incredibly soulful voice and the swagger of a seasoned lead man, he consistently did an amazing job throughout the night. Guitarist Drew Smithers unleashed some killer slide guitar work on “On My Way” an “What It Do”. It takes tons of cojones to close out your set with the Led Zeppelin classic song “Ramble On”. It’s so well known that one little mistake and EVERYONE knows it and that’s how people will remember you. But these guys absolutely slayed it and they had fans singing along to that classic tune.
Its now a little after ten thirty at night and the crowd is getting restless. Everyone knew that it was going to be a late start as Blackberry Smoke was set to play well past midnight, but that didn’t stop people from getting antsy. When Charlie Starr and the guys finally made it onto stage, the crowd erupted in cheers. They immediately jumped right into “Lord Strike Me”. Dressed in a jacket and a scarf, and playing that beautifully carved telecaster of his, Starr sounded great and was clearly on top of his game. After wishing everyone a quick happy New Year that got a huge cheer, they got right back into things with a rousing version of “Run Away”. Along side guitarist Paul Jackson they brought in guitarist Benji Shanks for the show and watching them have fun together just added to the party. When they played “Nobody Gives A Damn” it was a foot stomping great time that had the crowd whey into it. During a break in between songs, Charlie Starr said to the crowd “We have about an hour before it’s twenty twenty. So, get comfortable cause we are gonna be here for a while”, which thrilled everyone there, then they eased into the country flavored song “Pretty Little Lie” that had the crowd singing along. Halfway through a rip roaring version of “Up In Smoke” and smack in the middle of a dueling guitar solo between Charlie Starr and Paul Jackson, Starr stopped playing and waved off the band to let everyone know that it was two minutes to new year’s. He gave thanks to his crew and the fans that allowed them to do this. He then started the countdown and as it hit midnight, the confetti cannons went off as everyone cheered. If you thought the show would wind down now that it was a new year, you would be wrong. They kept the party going strong with “Lay It All On Me”, “Ain’t Got The Blues” and fan favorite “One Horse Town”. While Blackberry Smoke has a great catalog of songs, they have no problem covering some of the most iconic songs in rock, and tonight would be no different. This time they would play the absolute classic Tom Petty song “Even The Losers”. If their was a person that wasn’t singing along, it was because they were no where near the House Of Blues. After a brief break it was now time for the encore. With the lighting very low and some backlighting to create a cool dramatic visual they played “Flesh And Bone”. The combination of the lighting and that song was the reason people should get to a live show. Performances like that has to be experienced live. Blackberry Smoke had one last cover song in them in “Deep Elem Blues” a classic blues song performed by everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis, to the Grateful Dead. Tonight, they brought out Drew Smithers from Bishop Gunn to lend a hand on this song. With all four guitarists sharing a section of the song, it was a treat for everyone there. Of course, Smithers epic slide work was the highlight of that song. Sadly, this incredible New Year’s party had to end at some point. At around twenty to one in the morning they launched into “Ain’t Much Left In Me”. After the performance that they delivered tonight, you could really believe that.
After more than three hours of music, everyone filed out of the House Of Blues and into a new decade, tired but satisfied by the killer party that Blackberry Smoke and Bishop Gunn threw for them. This will be a concert that everyone that was there will be telling stories about for years to come. After all how often can you say you rocked in the New Year with Blackberry Smoke.
House Of Blues Orlando: