Gig Review: Hogjaw – Bannermans, Edinburgh (4th October 2018)

Here we are again, back at Bannermans for Arizona’s finest band, Hogjaw, touring the UK for the first time, including two Scottish dates with Glasgow’s King Tut’s the night before having the honour of being the first date of the tour. The band have a laid-back Southern style not unlike The Kentucky Headhunters, The Allman Brothers Band and some early Molly Hatchet thrown in; so you know you are in for a good night.

Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper
Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper

The guitars kick in along with the drums as the stunning “Rollin’ Thunder” from the Ironwood 2010 album hits you in the face, Jonboat has a powerful voice as he plays guitar along with his guitar buddy Jimmy who rocks out like a man possessed. Likewise, with Elvis on bass, a great start to the night. We meet the “Beast of Burden (Roll on)” now, the first track tonight from the excellent new album Way Down Yonder, a fabulous track with Jonboat’s soaring voice as he and Jimmy trade licks with Elvis pounding away on bass and Kwall keeping the rhythm nice and steady in the rear.

Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper
Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper

The band ask “Where Have You Gone” now from 2015’s Rise to the Mountains with its catchy hook line title track chorus; Kwall really showing his drumming on this one and the song really opens up with some stunning guitar. We head back to the new album with some laughs as the band talk and sing about “Brown Water” aka, Jack Daniel’s with its infectious guitar/drums intro which continue all the way through this catchy track. We stay with the new album as we head down “North Carolina Way” with Jimmy on vocals, a different vocal style but so effective on this superb track with Jonboat and Kwall on backing vocals.

Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper
Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper

We head back to 2012’s Sons of the Western Skies as we hear about “Hell’s Half Home of Mine” with its Southern country rock swagger, tremendous track. We hear from the man at the back now as Kwall sings “Am I Wrong?” from 2013’s If it Ain’t Broke with its hook-laden chorus and foot-tapping thumping guitars; definitely a favourite of mine tonight. The guitar intro heralds “I Will Remain” with Jonboat’s haunting vocals coming in to send chills down your spine, this from a man who did not want to be the singer in the beginning, with the soaring vocals and sublime guitar work. The guitar kicks in as the band tell us they will “Never Surrender” before we head down to the “County Line” with its twanging country rock style guitar intro. At just over 6 minutes the album version is stunning, but live it takes on a whole new life at just over 12 minutes tonight with an extended guitar jam session as the whole band, and Jimmy in particular, just let loose. The extended live version lets you see the band in all their glory and it is a pure joy to watch, think The Allman Brothers Band’s “Jessica” and you are near the mark of how good these guys are, a true highlight of tonight and possibly the year.

Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper
Hogjaw (c) Gary Cooper

We head back to the new album with the band asking for a bit of “Redemption” with Jimmy again on vocals with the others joining in to make it an incredible vocal track. We get “One Chance to Follow” next, a new track that bodes well for the new album as it carries on the style of Way Down Yonder. We head down the “Road of Fools” now with its catchy guitar, along with the drums and with Kwall singing again. This is a real head-shaking, foot-stomping track; you just can’t stand still. The title track now and the last one off the new album with “Way Down Yonder”, a real bite of true Southern rock with its vocals, guitars riffing away and a great singalong with the crowd and its nod to Charlie Daniels Band – just fabulous.

It is with a heavy heart that we come to the end of a truly excellent set with “This Whisky” from 2008’s Devil in the Details. I could listen to Jonboat’s voice forever, simply one of the best vocalists I have had the pleasure to listen to. The band are phenomenal with Elvis fantastic on bass, I don’t think he stayed still all night. Kwall on drums was stunning with a tremendous voice to boot and Jimmy was just as amazing on guitar with him and Jonboat duelling all night and a great voice as well. I had the pleasure of watching the boys the night before in King Tut’s in Glasgow and can safely say it has been the best two nights of music I have enjoyed in a long time.

I cannot urge you all enough to go out and check them out on the tour which is quite extensive in the UK. You will not be disappointed with these boys, I guarantee it.

Photos by Gary Cooper

Hogjaw: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

Setlist:

  • Rollin’ Thunder
  • Beast of Burden (Roll On)
  • Where Have You Gone
  • Brown Water
  • North Carolina Way
  • Hells Half Home of Mine
  • Am I Wrong?
  • I Will Remain
  • Never Surrender
  • County Line
  • Redemption
  • One Chance to Follow
  • Road of Fools
  • Way Down Yonder
  • This Whiskey
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Jas
Jas
October 25, 2018 2:23 PM

Fantastic gig and a great atmosphere, felt really privileged to see such a great band close up and personal,good bunch of guys too.