The Cadillac Three visit Birmingham in the midst of a steady stream of major country gigs at the Institute, in the last few months, this venue has also played host to the Band Perry, Kacey Musgraves and Hunter Hayes. Country is clearly a popular draw too, almost a sell out. Later, the Cadillac 3 will claim that this is their biggest gig in the UK to date. They are also the only one of the acts to not even try to pronounce the city any way other than “Bir-ming-haym!”. But it’s a slightly inauspicious start, support act Whiskey Myers have not made it due to an oil spill on the M6. The crowd begin to get restless, so the roadies are sent out to play some power chords, and so 15 minutes earlier than scheduled, the Cadillac 3 take the stage.
It’s a generalisation, but Country bands are pretty much always great live – bands hone their Country skills over hundreds of gigs, and by the time they hit the UK, the bands will be as tight as you would want. And the Cadillac 3 are particularly renowned for their live performances, a big noise from just two guitars and drums. Kelby Ray’s sit down electric being used for both a 2nd guitar and bass – sometimes at the same time. It’s a big rock sound – think AC/DC, Drive By Truckers, Allman Brothers, and in particular, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
From the opening track – “I’m Southern” through to the last track “The South”, the band generally stick to what they know. Beer, whiskey, trucks (always Chevy). But the strength of Cadillac 3 is their playing, and here it’s all about when the big riffs kick in (so big that at one break the amp breaks). Highlights are where the riffs hit a singalong chorus – “This Girl’s On Fire”, “Peace, Love and Dixie”, and “Down To The River” are the most popular with the crowd. “Can I get a Hell Yeah?!” shouts lead singer Jaren Johnston as he takes a break early on to chug a beer. “White Lightning” is still their best song, and takes a slightly different slower tack, and there are a couple of newer ones from the forthcoming album “If you don’t like this one, then you can kiss my ass” Jaren notes as new track “Soundtrack to a 6-pack” kicks in. New single (first to be released in the UK) “Graffiti” also gets an outing, another slower effort, but doesn’t seem to go down so well with the crowd.
It’s clear the live country scene is growing in Birmingham. The majority of the crowd know all the lyrics, and a number of t-shirts from the last tour are in attendance. And you can see why – The Cadillac 3 are a perfect party band, it’s music to drink a beer along to. Their next gigs in the US will be opening in arenas for major country acts like Florida Georgia Line and Kip Moore. Over here, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take the same route with some big rock shows, or slot in at some rock festivals (they have already played Sonisphere and Download), and when they do, I’d expect a lot of new fans to raise that beer high in the air and shout along: “I saw White Lightning!”.