With the onset of February we are getting a little busier. 2nd, Protest The Hero, 6th Del Amitri, 9th Molly Hatchet, 14th Monster Magnet, 15th Dream Theater, 19th, Sons Of Icarus, 20th Skyclad, 25th Soulfly, 26th Cadillac Three

And maybe a couple more to be added.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

MOLLY HATCHET, Iron Horses, Shyne @Robin 2, Bilston 9/2/14

Anyone who follows boxing will be aware of the term "journeymen". That is, a boxer without whom the sport couldn't survive, young prospects wouldn't be able to learn and shows up and down the country would not take place, but who will never be household names themselves.

In rock terms, that's Shyne. The Wolverhampton band were last seen by RTM opening for Y&T last  autumn and they are back doing the same thing tonight. And doing it well. With new bass player Jamie in situ, they plough through 40 minutes that suits anyone that still wishes rock n roll was centred on the Sunset Strip. Songs like "You Want It Don't You" and "Harder And Faster" give away the fact that there is nothing original here, but that's not the point. This is four blokes doing what they enjoy and if we may torture the boxing analogy once more, if the Championship belts will never be theirs, then at least an area title is in reach.

Germany's Iron Horses, from the minute they appear onstage, seem hell bent, not just for leather - of which there is plenty, even extending to a song title "Black Leather" - but also to shamelessly adhering to every cliche you associate with the Euro metal. There are skin tight spandex pants, studded wristbands and denim waistcoats all over the place, as well as tunes that, shall we say, owe a debt to The Scorpions and Priest.

Musically, most songs in their 40 minute set gallop along, but very few stick in the brain. "Renegade" and "The Game" are fist in the air fun, but there is little here to hint at at a glittering future. A few years ago bands like Enforcer and Katana were tipped to break through as part of some new wave of Trad Metal. They didn't really, and they were and are better than this. Whilst it would be unfair to say Iron Horse fell at the first hurdle, they may find the going tough. 

RTM favourites Drive By Truckers have a song called "Let There Be Rock". Amongst its verses is the line that "I never saw Lynyrd Skynrd, but I sure saw Molly Hatchet".

That sentimment is important because the Jacksonville, Florida band have, whilst perhaps never bothering arenas quite as much as Skynyrd, have been a pretty big deal in Southern Rock for nigh on 40 years. They are here in the UK for a pretty sizeable tour and they do so with a band - although containing just one founder member in Dave Hlubek - that has been pretty stable for a pretty long time. Guitarist Bobby Ingram has been here for nearly 30 years, keyboard man John Galvin for longer and singer Phil McCormack has been doing this for getting on for two decades. So, this is no cash in, these Hatchet men are the real deal.

And, how it shows. This is a clearly well rehearsed and lovingly put together set, which doesn't deviate much from previous nights, aside from "Darkness Of The Night" which is dedicated to Ronnie James Dio, who apparently loved the song, complete with horns in the air.

The whole thing is riotous fun from the off. "Whiskey Man", all slide guitars and harmonica sets the tone  and "Bounty Hunter" doesn't let up. Best of all though - certainly of the early songs - is "Gator Country" with its double guitar solo, as Ingram and Hlubeck cut loose, ably joined by bass player Tim Lindsay for some Quo-esque choreography.

Although Hlubeck is the founder, it looks as though Ingram is the leader onstage, playing the Richards to McCormack's "hell yeah-ing" Jagger and the two appear to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
To be fair it would be impossible not to when singing "Beatin' The Odds" and "Jukin' City", while there is an unexpected appearance from Bloodstock founder Paul Gregory, who paints Molly Hatchet's album covers, before a cover of The Allman Brothers "Dreams I'll Never See" ends the main set.

There is a surprise in the encores as "Boogle No More" is played as per a promise in last months Classic Rock, before "Flirtin' With Disaster" finishes a quite marvellous 90 minutes in fine style.

There is something about the Boogie Rock style - whether it be Skynyrd, ZZ Top, The Georgia Satellites, or more modern groups like Blackberry Smoke and Cadillac Three - that just makes for brilliant gigs and tonight is no exception.

So to paraphrase Drive By Truckers, "I have seen Lynyrd Skynyrd and I sure saw Molly Hatchet" and hell yeah it was good.

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