Support band and Blackberry Smoke label mates ‘Biters’ have a distinctly retro Glam/hair rock feel to them in both appearance and sound. They get a decent reception from a mixed age crowd with more appreciation coming from the older rockers and a well warmed up crowd ready for the main act.
Blackberry Smoke’s tag line of ‘Too Rock for Country and too Country for Rock’ shows through in this set. It really is impossible to slot them into either box and that’s a very good thing and something that has helped their success getting a number 1 album in the US Country charts with little airplay. I however discovered them playing a storming set on the main stage of Download festival in 2015, the home of heavy rock.
By the time Blackberry Smoke hit the stage the O2 Academy’s biggest room is packed out with a crowd excited to see them back in Oxford.
Touring their latest album ‘Like an Arrow‘ this features heavily through the set including ‘Waiting for the Thunder’ and ‘Sunrise in Texas’. These made for some of the heavier sounds of the evening alongside the more country vibes of singalong favourites ‘The Whippoorwill’ ‘Pretty Little lie’ and Lay it all on me.
The Encore sees some drawn out bluesy renditions of their heavier tracks giving a chance to really demonstrate the level of musicianship these guys bring as well as an inclusive sense of fun and appreciation for all those genres and past greats which have undoubtedly influenced their own sound. The appreciative Oxford crowd leave with a spring in their step and a promise of a Blackberry Smoke return in the near future.