As the autumn weather finally catches up to Manchester, the town is lifted by the arrival of some Southern sunshine in the form of two acts all the way from the land of Dixie. With a lot of hype in their wake as well as almost selling out The Ritz, Earache Records’ Blackberry Smoke certainly has a lot of good will from the UK rock scene. But now the band is stepping up to the big leagues in terms of thousand plus capacity venues, will they be able to capitalise on the affection and show what they are made of?

At just sixteen years old Aaron Keylock [6] is certainly making a name for himself in the blues scene. With a monolithic three hundred shows under his belt the southern rock prodigy is a perfect fit for the Blackberry Smoke crowd and is met with cheers and a rapturous reaction from the crowded Ritz.

The almighty roar that greats the evenings headliner Blackberry Smoke [7] are almost palpable and show just how far the band have come in such a short time over here. In their short career of fifteen years and three studio albums under their belt, the band have been rocketed to the heights of which bands usually into their second decade of existence could only dream about reaching. Starting off with ‘Like I Am’ from their second album “A Little Piece Of Dixie” starts the night off with a signature brand of southern rock swagger and the night doesn’t let up from there.

The southern rock five piece charm the packed crowd with their Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque laid back vibes and cause some pretty majestic singalongs with the likes of ‘Leave A Scar’ from the bands encore providing to be a major highlight. Frontman Charlie Star keeps the chat to the minimum allowing the bands packed set do the talking for them and the crowd don’t seem to mind the lack of interaction, as long as they continue to get their next fix from the land of Dixie.

Overall, as the classic rock revival bands go Blackberry Smoke are certainly one of the best doing the rounds at the moment, they have the tunes, the stage presence and judging from tonights display they certainly have the crowd in the palm of their hands. It might be harking back to a bye gone age and for none fans of southern passion this may rub you up the wrong way. But no one can deny that they are not rather good at what they do.

Blackberry Smoke set list:
1. Like I Am
2. Testify
3. Lucky Seven
4. Pretty Little Lie
5. Six Ways to Sunday
6. Good One Comin’ On
7. Sleepin’ Dogs
8. Restless
9. Everybody Knows She’s Mine
10. The Whippoorwill
11. Up in Smoke
12. Ain’t Got the Blues
13. Lesson in a Bottle
14. Son of the Bourbon
15. One Horse Town
16. Ain’t Much Left of Me / When the Levee Breaks

Encore:
17. Leave a Scar
18. Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost

Blackberry Smoke – Facebook Page

Aaron Keylock – Facebook Page

Photos by Sabrina Ramdoyal.