Sunday, 2 December 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Norwich UEA - 14th November 2012

In all honesty, I'd completely forgotten I hadn't written this yet. So with my sincerest apologies I will bring you a new gig review while I relax to my traditional Sunday regime of soothing post-metal.

Since I was young, Lynyrd Skynyrd have been a rock band I've idolised, despite having no discernible connections with the south whatsoever. That being said, it never stopped me being an avid fan. I admired their use of blues and country in their music to help fuel the rise of the new sub-genre of "southern rock", how they had done something no other band had dreamed of and employed 3 guitarists, and how they took a leaf out of the Allman Brothers Band's book and utilised harmony leads to great effect. All this coupled with the bands history of bad luck, resulting in only one original member remaining has helped cement this band as rock and roll legends.

Making the journey to Norwich alone I couldn't help but notice the ethereal atmosphere all around due to the fog that plagued the air. I could tell already that this would be a night to remember.

And I was right.

Opening band Red, White & Blues (9) are a band that I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of before this evening. This band from Northern Yorkshire proved within mere minutes of stepping on stage why they were rightly chosen to support Lynyrd Skynyrd, with Swedish born bassist/vocalist Matti Alfonzetti showing off a truly impressive set of vocal skills, ranging from belting out a passionate rock ballad, to a bluesy shuffle to the swagger of a southern rock style boogie, these guys played a very enjoyable set and quickly gained a new fan in myself. Due to unforeseen circumstances resulting in Skynyrd being late, Red, White & Blues even kept the crowd going by playing a second set full of excellent covers (how dedicated and fucking awesome is that?).

When Skynyrd (9) do finally take to the stage, 50 minutes later than planned, the previously tense atmosphere deteriorates instantly as Johnny Van Zant and the boys show why they are still one of the best live acts on the planet. After a short apology explaining their troubles travelling to the venue from London due the fog resulting in road closure (understandable), the band kick into their set and waste no time tearing through a handful of new songs and a bunch of old classics. Seeing everyone singing along is a rare and enjoyable sight for me at gigs so I wasted no time in singing along with everyone else at the top of my lungs. More heartfelt numbers such as "Simple Man" and the classic "Free Bird" really are full of emotion and a wonderful thing to witness. "Free Bird" in particular causes me to tear up slightly, reminiscing about loved ones and friends who have passed from this world. A evening full of passion, emotion and excellent songs all performed flawlessly. To make up for their lateness the band play a full set regardless of curfew, playing to near midnight. After the flawless encore of "Free Bird" which included a disco ball and a fantastic sing-along effort from the crowd, I made my way outside to see that the fog had reached ridiculous levels and visibility was almost nil, meaning that the normally 40 minute drive would take me nearly 2 hours of cautious driving down a dimly lit motorway. All totally worth it however to see one of the best bands in the world still performing nearly 40 years onwards after having enough bad luck to ruin a dozen bands and still surviving. Lynyrd Skynyrd truly are "Street Survivors". And here's hoping they still have a lot left to give.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Setlist:
  1. Last Of A Dyin' Breed
  2. What's Your Name?
  3. Down South Jukin'
  4. That Smell
  5. One Day At A Time
  6. I Know A Little
  7. Simple Man
  8. Gimme Back My Bullets
  9. Whiskey Rock-A-Roller
  10. The Needle & The Spoon
  11. Tuesday's Gone
  12. Good Teacher
  13. Gimme Three Steps
  14. Call Me The Breeze
  15. Sweet Home Alabama
  16. Free Bird
 Last Of A Dyin' Breed is out now on Roadrunner Records

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