It’s that time of year again. Well, one of them. Hayseed Dixie regularly hit Glasgow twice per annum due to the fact that a) they’ll almost certainly sell out and b) they genuinely, really do love the city. I’ve known the guys long enough to be able to tell you that’s not just some on-stage hyperbole. Why else would that have chosen Glasgow for their four-nights-in-a-row-at-different-venues “tour” a few years back?
This night was indeed a sell-out, with 1300 people squeezed into the ABC. Despite this, there was still plenty of space to move around and find a decent viewing point.
My apologies to the support band, but my interview with Hayseed Dixie was pushed back (interviews almost always are!) as sound checks and the like ran on. As a result, they were on stage while I was talking to the band and we had to rush out and get dinner before the headliners or security would have been carrying us out on stretchers halfway through. I do usually tell people to make sure they support the opening acts, and I almost always do, but sometimes events conspire.
But tonight was a night of rockgrass. Tonight was the baptism by Glaswegian fire of new members Joe and Johnny. Tonight belonged to Hayseed Dixie.
From the time the band walked on stage to the last banjo chords disappearing ninety or so minutes later, Deer Lick Holler’s finest exuded nothing but confidence and a faint whiff of underarm odour tinged with bourbon. The new album featured heavily, including “Eye of the Tiger”, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “We Ain’t Gonna Take It” while plenty of older favourites were aired out. As John mentioned once or twice, the band now have fourteen albums out so there was no way they’d play everyone’s ideal set. Having said that, they’d have to try damn hard to play a set that was anything less than excellent.
The main part of the set – pre-encore, which I’ll get to shortly – was a great mix of both old and new, original and covers. Probably my favourite HD-penned number “Kirby Hill” was in the opening salvo while I was taking photos, while fan favourites such as “Poop in a Jar” and “Moonshiner’s Daughter” were slotted in later.
Throughout, Joe and Johnny looked like they’d been there for years. Filling in the seemingly uniquely-shaped shoes of the brothers Reno, the two new upstarts lampooned and posed around the stage like born rock stars. Despite one being tall and skinny, the other shorter and somewhat more Thorin-Okenshield-like there was no further similarity to the departed duo. Hayseed Dixie lost two incredibly talented musicians and wonderful guys when Don and Dale left… but has recruited two very different string-twangers in their stead who have taken the band on a slightly different path.
To actually replace D&D would have been impossible, so the band have done the next best thing – changed and updated. And it’s worked.
The overall sound at the gig seemed to have a bit more of a rock edge to it compared to older shows; more rock than grass. The four guys worked well together, played off each other like they’d been friends for years and had the crowd behind them throughout as a result. I’m very much looking forward to the band’s next album (which may be over a year away, don’t get too excited!) which will include a mixture of new material and more covers. It’ll be interesting to see what new sound J&J bring to the beer-soaked table.
This was as good a show as Hayseed Dixie have put on in years, and the best thing is that they’re still trying out new things. The aforementioned encore was a lengthy medley, beginning as a hop between two or three songs at points which made humorous sense if you paid attention to the lyrics. As time went on, the jumps became less fluid but did allow the band to throw in a lot of material – some we’ve heard from them before (“Comfortably Numb” in full) some not (a verse or so of Dio’s “Holy Diver”).
And you know the best thing? They’ll be back in September or thereabouts. As I said at the start, Glasgow’s one place they can play twice in a year and still sell tickets. So they plan to.
- Back to school with Hayseed Dixie (moshville.co.uk)