The Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff was the setting for the first night of 7 date UK tour taking in many major cities. It has a reputation of poor sound quality, which can be challenging for bands who work hard to sound great. It can a bit of a lottery as too whether the sound will be good or not, but for these three greats from the USA, we won.
With three bands on the bill, and a long headline set, the doors opened early at 6pm, which allowed plenty of time to get settled before Monster Truck hit the stage 45 minutes later. By this time, the arena was only half full, but the early crowd were quickly drawn in as they started their 30 minute set of some older, more familiar tracks, mixed in with some, such as Evolution, from their new record.
As the set drew to a close their stunning performance of ‘She’s a Witch’ the band’s fabulous energy had the sparse, but growing crowd joining in with the lyrics. They assured the crowd that they will be back next year – whether that is Cardiff, or the UK isn’t clear, but they are certainly a band I will want to go and see again.
Monster Truck are:
Jon Harvey – Bass and Vocals
Brandon Bliss – Keys and Vocals
Steve Kiely – Drums and Vocals
Jeremy widerman- Guitar and Vocals
The second band on the bill, The Cadillac 3, was one I have seen several times before and thoroughly enjoyed. As the the three guys from Nashville, Tennessee strode onto the stage, a cheer went up that assured me I was not alone in being pleased to see the band back in Cardiff. Opening up with ‘Peace Love and Dixie’ their brand of southern rock filled the arena.
These guys are so talented – every song seems to be about their favourite things – drinking, their family, or their heritage. With Kelby Ray and his Lap Steel perched on riser on one side of the stage, Neil Mason and his drum kit on the other, it is left to Jaren Johnstone on guitar and vocals to draw in and engage the crowd. with a set that is filled with raucous rock, as well as slow ballads, like ‘White Lightening’ we had a set that gave us skill and talent, as well as humour and versatility. This is another band that I’m happy to see any time they are in town.
The Cadillac 3 are:
Neil MasonJaren Johnston: Guitar & Lead Vocals
Kelby Ray: Dobro, Acoustic, Lap Steel & Vocals
Neil Mason: Drums, Percussion & Vocals
By the time all the kit was moved and the huge stage was readied for the headline band, the arena had filled up and everyone was anxious to see what they had in store for us. Unusually, there was a short video shown on the screen behind the stage before the set, showing a rare insight into the band. Kicking off the set with ‘Burnin’ , the band exploded onto the stage, with Chris Robertson (vocals/ guitar), Bell Wells (guitar/vocals) and Jon lawton (bass/vocals) covering every inch of the stage as they somehow manage to play and sing whilst also leaping across the stage – switching sides so that everyone can see the immense guitar work.
They didn’t seem to stop for breath until the start of ‘the Things My Father Said’. A power ballad that has Ben slowing himself to a walk before picking up the pace again for ‘Aint Nobody’. the second half of the set has just as much energy before finishing off with ‘Family Tree’ and their well deserved encore, ‘Peace is Free’. Throughout the set, there is a sense of a party atmosphere. These guys enjoy what they do, and will make sure their audience enjoys it too. I know I did – next time they are int the UK, I’ll be in the ticket queue!
As we poured out onto the dark, rainy streets, the general buzz confirmed that this had been an absolutely superb night of music, and on a school night, too!
Chris Robertson – vocals/guitar
Ben Wells – guitar/vocals
Jon Lawhon – bass/vocals
John Fred Young – drums
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