Gig Review: Hush Money / Tom Killner / CLKWRK – The Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton (18th May 2024)

It’s a stupidly warm day in Wolverhampton, The Black Crowes are playing the Civic tonight and Hayseed Dixie are making their triumphant return (review soon) to KK’s Steel Mill and this afternoon, The Giffard Arms are playing host to a matinee show of Tom Killner and Hush Money’s co-headline tour. As a venue, The Giffard Arms (or The Giff, as the locals call it), it’s a new one for me but with a great vibe downstairs and Killswitch Engage (Jesse’s second stint for those wondering) currently on the jukebox, the upstairs holds the venue and where the three bands are plying their trade.

Up first, CLKWRK (Clockwork for those who need vowels) with an acoustic set. It’s mentioned early on that they’re not an acoustic due but rather a plugged-in trio but for today with the Americana/Southern rock stylings, it works and acts as a nice way to ease us in. Strong vocals are able to overpower them being a touch low in the mix but the guitar is strong and vibrant. With the sell (and checking out some of their stuff) of the plugged-in experience featuring drums and extra accoutrements, they’d work well on a bill with Anchor Lane. Whilst not leaning on the tamer end of the spectrum, their transformation for the afternoon feels sincere and there’s still a hint of their brooding selves to be found within.

It’s time for Tom Killner for a dose of his Southern rock/boogie/Americana. Straightaway, you can tell Killner is part of a tight unit, his Les Paul bouncing off the keys for some driving melodies in perfect Southern fashion that is so authentic you’d think he’s from the Southern States. There’s a soulful feel to them and it may be his name on the poster but you get the impression that this is a full band and not some hired guns to make up the numbers. Meanwhile, Killner’s husky vocals sound like they’ve been drenched in whisky and subjected to sixty cigarettes a day. It’s different from your usual sort of wail you’d expect but it lends a soulful quality to proceedings.

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However, Killner quickly admits that his voice has just gone but ever the professional, he soldiers on and powers through for the third song. It sees the keys pushed higher into the mix and sounds like The Quireboys at their raucous best. Between several apologies, Killner and the band run through a fun instrumental jam to avoid putting extra strain on his voice and there’s a whole helping of ZZ Top boogie to be found as the band work in perfect sync, not even having to share a look to communicate. Hush Money’s Seth Weaver jumps up for a cover of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post”, Weaver lending vocals is similarly flawless and he works with his fellow headliners as if he’s always singing with them. Eventually, Killner admits defeat with one final jam which is full of rip-roaring slide and Killner can’t apologise enough. You have to admire his attempt to power through and his professionalism. Here’s hoping he’s on the mend and we’ll get the full show at Call of the Wild this weekend!

Hush Money go for a heavier slant on the Southern rock sound. Despite being from Georgia like the modern kings of Southern rock, Blackberry Smoke, they’re closer to Black Stone Cherry’s take on it. However, they’ve found room to make themselves sound a touch more modern than you’d expect for the genre whilst sprinkling in hints of alternative to keep that modernity flowing. The quartet are equally tight as their fellow headliners and their first jaunt to the UK appears to be one they’re loving every minute of. They take the situation they have with humility and simply go out and play their allotted time, refusing to be arrogant about it.

Whilst there is a hint of contemporary sounds, the band pay homage to the genre’s roots and neighbouring genres as bluesy tones find time to shine through and slide guitar is used liberally without turning heavy handed. As Seth Weaver proved earlier, he’s an excellent vocalist and his brother, Greg (drums) can easily go toe-to-toe with him. Playing drums and lead vocals isn’t an easy feat and there’s a reason why you don’t see it all that often but he does it with grace and ease. For the band, it’s a muscular set as riffs duel and bass purrs in equal measure against drums you’d expect to hear on more traditional hard rock sounds. Indeed, Hush Money are a band who can challenge genre stereotypes to show the South has more to offer than what you already know.

What has to be said for each and every band today is that they don’t let the low turnout faze them. Playing on a sunny Saturday afternoon was always going to be a challenge but all three keep their poise and for those who didn’t go – it’s their loss. Add in Killner’s early finish and it’s definitely a strange afternoon in Wolves but with Hush Money refusing to eclipse their touring partner and what we saw of Killner was of equal calibre, it’s nothing short of a great afternoon and in no way can be called a “warm-up” for those going on to other shows that evening.

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Hush Money: official | facebook | instagram | youtube

Tom Killner: official | facebook | instagram | youtube

CLKWRK: facebook | instagram | threads | youtube

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