At O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 12, 2019

THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS (Live at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 12, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s pretty hard finding a real bargain these days. Value for money is certainly hard to find as years of austerity continue to bite yet every now and then something comes along that just defies the odds.

Three bands inspired by the finest Southern Rock traditions brought together for less than thirty quid was an offer too tempting for even the most penny pinching of pockets. With a revolving lineup from night to night, with each band taking a turn to headline meant every show was uniquely different.

First up in Newcastle were Jason & The Scorchers whose potent brand of Cow Punk that blends Country, Punk and high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll were the perfect band to get the party started. Lost Highway and Golden Days, the latter co-written with local hero, Ginger Wildheart sparkled with life driven by the fiery guitars of Warner Hodges, making his first appearance of the night with the honour of opening and closing the show with two different bands as well as taking lead vocals on the AC/DC stomp of Better Than This.

Vocalist Jason Ringenberg’s charismatic role as frontman and seriously energetic songs including the Punked up Mona Lee made this one very hard act to follow.

It may have taken them almost half a century to finally make it over to Europe due to a chronic fearing of flying but since making that momentous step three years ago they are certainly making up for lost time and what better band to follow such a ferocious opening act than The Kentucky Headhunters, whose Southern Rock pedigree goes right back to the very genesis of the genre.

Formed around brothers Robert and Fred Young, father and uncle respectively, of Black Stone Chery drummer John Fred Young, The Kentucky Headhunters were arguably the most traditional of the Southern Rock bands on the bill. Vocalists Doug Phelps and Robert Young possessed the whiskey soaked, gravel hewn powerhouse voices and guitarist Greg Martin, the biting riffs necessary to create the genuine sounds of the Southern states of America.

It’s Chitlin’ Time with its tight harmonies and Stumblin’, recorded originally with Johnnie Johnson, the legendary piano player with Chuck Berry showed a real gravitas, an authority that only comes from 51 years on the road.

Johnsons roaring take on House of the Rising Son, would have made Eric Burdon swell with pride and slow the Blues shuffle of Walking With The Wolf with Martin’s seriously dirty slide work showed pure class.

Dan Baird and Homemade Sin are no strangers to Newcastle, having played here many times over the years so perhaps it was fitting that it was their turn to close the show tonight.

With Warner Hodges back for his second set of the night, joining former Georgia Satellites singer, Dan Baird for a thoroughly enjoyable romp through some of the most foot stomping Southern Rock you’ll hear all year.

Songs from his solo career (I Love You Period), Homemade Sin (What Can I Say To Help) and of course a handful of Georgia Satellite classics (Keep Your Hands To Yourself and Mon Cheri) kept the tempo boiling.

Every Southern Rock band needs an epic and All Over But The Cryin’ is Baird’s as his emotive vocals and slow burning delivery combined with Hodges spectacular solo brought the set to a searing climax.

Three hours literally flew by with three bands linked by a common theme but each with a uniquely different take on that theme gave a new meaning to the term “more bang for your buck.”

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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