By Chyrisse Tabone, ROCK AT NIGHT Tampa Venue: Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, Florida-June 30, 2019-Teseschi & Trucks, Blackberry Smoke, Shovels & Rope-Wheels of Soul Tour 2019
Rock At Night frequently covers Blackberry Smoke gigs in the UK and Europe, so it is ironic that we had to wait to wait so long to see the Atlanta, Georgia band make its way down in Tampa Bay, Florida. Fresh from The Download festival, we were so stoked to see the band was on the bill with the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Wheels of Soul 2019 Tour. Yes, the band was finally making it here! The weather is hit or miss in Florida during the summer since we have frequent downpours and even tropical depressions during the summertime. Sunday, June 30th squeezed out the thunderstorms in the afternoon, so the sky was sunny with fluffy white clouds just in time for the arrival of the Wheels of Soul tour.
Al Lang Stadium was bustling with 40- and 50-somethings carrying blankets and chairs, ready to sit on the stadium’s lawn for the concert. There was a partitioned area with folding chairs near the stage for the upper tier to sit. The place was a zoo of hot and sweaty people in shorts, drinking beers, and reveling in the music, as the first band, husband-wife Americana duo Shovels and Ropes was finishing up.
Blackberry Smoke, comprised of Charlie Starr (lead vocals/guitar), Richard Turner (bass/vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar/vocals), Brandon Still (keyboards), as well as help from touring members (a percussionist and guitarist), walked on the stage. They were looking very relaxed, in light of just arriving from South Florida. Blackberry Smoke started the set with “Lord Strike Me Dead” and “Run Away From it All” from their recent album Find a Light. Another song from the album, which I have to say, is a great listen, was the rocking “Medicate My Mind”. All good stuff!
Between songs, Starr spoke to the audience with a very humble tone, saying “We were supposed to be here before but there was a hurricane. We live in Georgia. We do not know about hurricanes! Glad you made it out tonight!” One of the highlights of the evening was Blackberry Smoke’s bluesy and soulful rendition of Elton John’s “Burn Down the Mission”. Starr said, ‘We are dedicating this to Derek and Susan. It’s great being on the road!”
By then, the band had the audience eat out of their hand, as they stood and howled between songs. The air was then quiet and still as a guitar gracefully played “Amazing Grace” and tore into “Ain’t Much Left of Me” from an earlier album The Whippoorwill. The song has a very Lynyrd Skynyrd-ish feel, which made it natural as it segued into “Mississippi Kid”. People mouthed the words, rocked, and clapped with approval! People left very satisfied, hoping Blackberry Smoke would come back soon! As Blackberry Smoke is very well-known in Europe, fans need to check out these native sons, as they totally capture the feel and allure of classic Southern Rock bands of the 70s. WEBSITE