Atlanta’s finest deliver a smoking set at the O2 Academy Newcastle.

Following on from the success of 2016’s critically acclaimed Like An Arrow, which debuted at #8 on the UK’s Official Album Chart, Blackberry Smoke recently returned with their sixth studio album Find A Light. This being a release which saw the five-piece really push their creative boundaries and by doing so covered a lot of ground musically.

Subsequently, following a run of European summer festival dates that included one of the standout sets at the recent Ramblin’ Man Fair the group are back in the UK as part of an extensive tour in support of the release. A strong crowd in attendance tonight at the O2 Academy Newcastle as Blackberry Smoke kick off their current UK run with their third appearance in this very room since 2015.

The smell of burning incense fills the room as Blackberry Smoke takes to the stage and kicks off the proceedings with the honky-tonk rock and roll sounds of “Nobody Gives A Damn”, the frantic “Leave A Scar” and the uplifting “Good One Coming On”. The latter of which being the perfect soundtrack to a Friday night in Newcastle.

Blackberry Smoke continues to wheel out the big guns from early in their set from the hard-hitting “Waiting For The Thunder” through to incredibly infectious “Crimson Moon”. Tonight’s career-spanning setlist covers all of the bases. The core of the show is drawn the band’s seminal album Whippoorwill, with six tracks featuring from the record during Blackberry Smoke’s two-hour set.

Frequently throughout the course of the show the band get into their groove as they jam out extended versions of many of their songs. A perfect example of which being Blackberry Smoke’s somewhat epic rendition of “Sleeping Dogs” during which the band segues a few bars of Little Feat’s “Rock and Roll Doctor” and “Come Together” by The Beatles to great effect before seamlessly reprising the number.

The second half of the set is packed full of crowd pleasers and fan favourites including the anthemic “Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost”, the ethereal “Whippoorwill”, a passionate airing of “Payback’s a Bitch”, along with recent single “Run Away From It All”. Each song, of course, is greeted with rapturous applause from the Tyneside crowd.

Frontman Charlie Starr entertains the audience during a brief onstage repair job to drummer Brit Turner’s bass drum with some slide fuelled delta blues before making an impromptu change to their setlist with an astounding rendition of one of the band’s newest numbers “Lord Strike Me Dead”.

At around 10.45pm Blackberry Smoke are still pushing on, this evening it feels as though the band want to play all night long; not that the locals would object for one moment. A beautiful airing of “One Horse Town” closes out the band’s main set before a two-song encore of Michael Tolcher’s “Sunrise In Texas” and the cathartic “Ain’t Much Left In Me” concludes this incredible musical marathon at 11 pm on the dot.

Whilst southern rock legends such as Lynyrd Skynyrd are calling it a day, Blackberry Smoke continues to carry on the torch and blaze a trail for those who came before them.

Blackberry Smoke
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Event Date: 02-Nov-2018

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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