Blackberry Smoke + Read Southall Band @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Sunday 26th March 2023


It has been a few years since Blackberry Smoke were last here in the UK, and so it was no surprise that on this opening night in Birmingham they were rewarded with a rapturous reception from the expectant crowd. Easing into ‘Leave a Scar’ they served up two hours of vibrant, good-time rock and roll with that all important scintillating Southern twist. The band have built up a loyal following on this side of the Atlantic, and now normal touring has resumed we can hopefully look forward to seeing them over here again on a regular basis. If you missed this show then they will be headlining the Long Road festival which takes place in Leicestershire over the August Bank Holiday weekend (

Blackberry Smoke – Birmingham O2 Academy, 26th March 2023

The gig was dedicated to absent drummer Brit Turner who has had to sit out the last couple of shows but, as Charlie Starr informed the audience, is now thankfully feeling much better. Deputising behind the kit was Kent Aberle, and all credit to him for doing a great job. The set list reads like one barn-burner after another; ‘Good One Comin’ On’, ‘Payback’s a Bitch’, ‘Waiting for the Thunder’ and included much of 2012’s breakout The Whippoorwill. Not to say there weren’t any new songs to enjoy as they highlighted several numbers from 2021’s You Hear Georgia, including the raucous title track and reflective ‘Ain’t the Same’.

They have released some terrific albums, but seeing the band live is where you truly get to appreciate the Blackberry Smoke experience. Watching them ease from ‘Sleeping Dogs’ into Tom Petty’s ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ you can only marvel at the triple guitar interplay between Charlie, Paul Jackson and Benji Shanks. The acoustic led ‘Ain’t Got the Blues’ was the cue for Charlie to lead the Birmingham choir into another mass sing-a-long and they sang a word-perfect rendition right back to him. ‘Ain’t Much Left of Me’ closed the show and its title pretty much sums up the performance; this is a band that gives everything for the two hours they are on stage and you get the impression they simply never have an off night. Twenty-two years down the road, Blackberry Smoke are right at the top of their game.

Read Southall Band @ Birmingham O2 Academy – 26th March 2023

Before the headliners, we had the chance to check out the Read Southall Band from Oklahoma who were making their debut UK appearance, and they served up a firecracker of an opening set that certainly won them some new admirers. Digging into their history, they started out as a solo project for Read before evolving into a six-piece band that are inspired by some of the classic rock and country greats of the 70’s, and yet have their very own unique sound.

There was certainly much to enjoy about their forty five minute set; the band gave off a relaxed, laid-back vibe when they took the stage, and then the fired-up guitar licks combined with Read’s powerful vocals to really grab the audiences attention. You can see RSB winning many fans on this side of the pond providing they can find the time in their schedule to come back over here on a regular basis. They closed with ‘DLTGYD’, arguably the stand out track from 2021’s For the Birds and is a thumping rock anthem that carries an optimistic message. Check them out, this is a band we hope to see and hear much more from.

Blackberry Smoke Setlist:

Blackberry Smoke – Birmingham O2 Academy, 26th March 2023

Leave a Scar
Good One Comin’ On
Let It Burn
Live It Down
You Hear Georgia
Pretty Little Lie
Payback’s a Bitch
Hey Delilah
Lucky Seven
Sleeping Dogs
Ain’t the Same
Ain’t Gonna Wait
Everybody Knows She’s Mine
Waiting for the Thunder
What Comes Naturally
Livin’ Hell
Ain’t Got the Blues
Run Away From It All
One Horse Town
Old Scarecrow

Shakin’ Hands With the Holy Ghost
Ain’t Much Left of Me


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