The Rescue Rooms is very much the little sister to Nottingham’s premier, and much larger, music venue, Rock City. With it being only next door and hidden from view to an extent, it often gets overlooked as a quality stage for touring bands. But every now and then a little bit of RR magic happens and a major act decides that it’s the exact venue for them. Roll in Myles Kennedy, the amazing front man of stadium giants Alter Bridge, former frontman with the Mayfield Four, Partner to Slash on a couple of albums, and now as a solo act in his own right.
As you can imagine, ticket sales were swift. The Rescue Rooms holds 450 folks and that’s it; available tickets went in seconds if you ask those unfortunate enough not to get one.
The venue is tiny in comparison to some others and, in fact, if ticket sales go well the acts have been upgraded to Rock City. This wasn’t the case here as a small venue was what was requested. With extra security on for this mega star, the night was set for a memorable event.
First up we have ‘@Holiday Oscar’ a genial young chappie with a smile as big as the man himself. Now this was an unusual one. Stood under the huge Myles Kennedy backdrop with his acoustic guitar around his neck and the case front of stage, open like a London Underground busker, Oscar proceeded to mesmerise the gathered crowd, for gathered read capacity, with his cheeky banter and tales of his youth which, looking at him, he was still living in. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand. I’ve been to the Rescue Rooms a lot over recent years and I have never seen anybody have the crowd’s total attention like this. The normal gig banter from the select few who always insist on talking through the set was missing. In fact, you could have heard a pin drop as this young man sang his way through a set full of satirical songs and hilarious banter. The only break in the silence being when the crowd would erupt, as one, in a cavalcade of belly laughter. Talking about the Mad Hatter coming from the same town as he does, being in a rap band but being too stoned to remember anything about it and singing about like how Kim Jong Un met Donald Trump; will give you an idea of what this young chap was about. A great start to the evening. Brilliant combination of satirical lyrics with great guitar arrangements, his album has the catchy title of ‘I Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,’ guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Myles Kennedy. When this quiet humble man walked onto the stage, acoustic in one hand wearing a black Jacket over a white vest, hair as it should be, no would have guessed what was in store. As he slowly walked up to the microphone and stood stage centre feeling the atmosphere as he does so, the crowd cheer unlike I’ve heard for any band in a very long time. Kennedy lifts his head as the lights come onto him and Immediately his eyes light up and that huge smile beams back from the stage. The crowd erupts.
Tonight, being the second night of his first solo tour is a tour he tells us he’s wanted to do for a very long time, and he’s loving doing it.
Named after his latest album Year of the Tiger (1974) featuring on his backdrop hints at the year he was born, in fact he was born in 1969, Nov 27th to be exact, and that would be the year of the Rooster!
This album has evolved from the death of his father who sadly passed away in July 1974, it’s the album promised for so many years, written and rewritten, and now, with nobody to hide behind, Kennedy takes on death and separation and promises to smash out an evening of songs full of dark lyrics, country twangs and bluesy guitar, alongside that gutsy astonishing voice.
The opening track ‘Devil on The Wall,’ from the new album, sees him standing, a jingly riff dancing from his fingers as he strums the acoustic hanging from his neck, his fantastic voice cutting through as he sings about the dearly departed, with an almost rock-a-billy vibe. That was an easy opener as the crowd love it.
Next up is ‘Standing in the Sun’ a song from his collaborations with Slash, featuring on Apocalyptic Love (2012) another song talking about loss and a heavy heart. With no Slash to bounce guitar parts with, Kennedy shows what a formidable guitarist is by carrying the tune and singing about ‘carrying doubts away.’ Great stuff.
Now we go back to The Mayfield Four days, with just the two albums to choose from, Myles has chosen ‘Eden.’ Telling the crowd, he’s going to play songs from the last 20yrs of his career he starts strumming the intro into this fan favourite. The crowd are quiet, respectful of the lyrics, ‘Yours makes me feel safe, Cause yours makes me feel safe, I’m wishing you the best’ another poignant reference to his late father maybe.
No Myles Kennedy show would be complete without an Alter bridge song or two so it’s no surprise when he lets rip with ‘Lover’ and follows it with ‘Addicted to Pain.’
Next, we are treated to another Slash collaboration the now classic track ‘Starlight’ sees Myles excorcising that amazing vocal range as his voice soars about making things right and finding a place where we belong.
‘Haunted by Design’ from the new album has Kennedy introduce Tim Yay, his guitar tech seen tinkering away at the side of the stage, who joins him for the first of two duets. This cracking song sees Kennedy talking about not being able to sleep, being kept awake by the noises inside. A nice little finger picking country style break gives us chance to enjoy this great man as he asks for slumber to rescue him.
Resonator Guitar out now, he sits as he fiddles with his pedals, with the guitar across his lap he strums lap steel style, when he’s ready he sits the guitar conventionally, a slow steady finger picking riff harks the intro into the Led Zeppelin gem ‘Going to California’ the crowd join in with a steady clap and then quietness descends as he starts singing, the song a superb foil for that dynamic vocal. The man is amazing, showing off his skill hanging on the note and just as you think he’s going to breathe he knocks it up an octave. His drum pedal takes a bit of a beating as he stands, stomping on the piece of wood on the floor as he smashes out riff after riff to the appreciative crowd who clap and cheer.
‘Mars Hotel’ follows a quick tale of how the song only took 45minutes to write (he’s is renowned for being a perfectionist and often pours over lyrics for hours until he’s happy with them). He talks about his girl problems and how that all changed when he met his wife Selina. He jokes that he couldn’t write for a year as he nothing to bitch about as everything was all Puppies and Disney. He still cringes at the first line ‘I Saw Her in An Empty Bar’, in fact he jokes throughout the song, pulling faces, laughing, saying he can’t sing the words as they’re so bad. He has the crowd in stitches, they cheer and clap. Saying ‘You guys kick ass’ as he finishes the song.
A trio from Alter Bridge follow ‘Losing Patience’ this being introduced as a song never performed live by Myles of AB as he calls Alter Bridge. Referred to as the first single off their last album, it however, didn’t feature as a single or in the live set list. ‘Wonderful Life’ sees Myles sat again to play this sincere ballad which again gives reference to the passing of someone very close and dear. He asks for everyone’s phones to be shone in the air, gone are the days of lighters, he wants the room lit up! He goes into ‘Watch Over You’ another classic AB song. The crowd joining in with the singing as Myles joins them again ‘Who’ll Watch Over You When I’ve Gone Away?’
A little break as we listen to Myles playing slide guitar we now have the Robert Johnson song ‘Travelling Riverside Blues’ a bit of a tempo change from the last couple, this is a prelude to another Slash collaboration ‘World on Fire.’ This up-tempo song sees Kennedy unleash his inner rock god as that amazing voice screams and howls as it fills the venue with deliciousness dripping from his vocal chords. ‘Open Your Eyes’ is next, another one from his day job with Alter Bridge
The final song of the set is the album title track ‘Year of The Tiger’. This see’s Kennedy singing about the loss of his dad, about not knowing when his dad would be taken, and how love keeps you alive. A truly great song about losing his idol and hero at such a young age. The acoustic guitar really knitting deep into the soul of this song as Kennedy delivers a knockout set closer. His voice never faltering but you can see how much this means to him as he delivers a powerful, emotional lyric.
After a brief interval, he’s back on for an encore much to the crowd’s delight. This sees him playing the song the crowd have been calling out for all night, the live debut of ‘Only Love Can Heal’ from Year of the Tiger. This slow ballad see’s Kennedy baring all once again; the stripped back song has the crowd in silence as he tells us not to mind the pain, there’s a place inside as love can only heal! Hanging on that last note it, rings out pure, full, but soft and gentle at the same time. It then switches up a gear as Kennedy brings the song to a fantastic climax and the crowd love it, and rightly so, it’s a stunning song.
Calling on help from his guitar tech, Tim, again who sits down amid cheers and chants for ‘Timmy’ from the crowd. Standing Kennedy lets loose an intricate slow solo riff, smiling and asking if Tim’s ready he launches into ‘Cry of Achilles’ much to the crowd’s appreciation, cheers and clapping ensue as the slight Greek sounding riffs ring out from the guitars, as they knock out this, another Alter Bridge favourite. The crowd join in the chorus ‘don’t close your eyes, something beautiful is still alive,’ Don’t close your eyes, never turn away and let it die!’
This is what the evening has been building towards. A clever set choice with a common theme running through which has delivered us to the reason why the album has been written. Having chosen a precise set list from his last 20 years Kennedy has given us a night of greatest hits dedicated to his Dad. Awesome!
After a handshake from the great man himself he moved across the stage spending time shaking hands and chatting briefly with the fans. A mark of a truly humble entertainer in my book.
So, a night with Myles Kennedy finishes. A night of laughter with @HolidayOscar and one of listening to tales about the songs and life of the great Myles Kennedy, about his liking for Michael Jackson, and how his wife nearly destroyed his song writing career, but most of all a night of brilliant song writing. Right where’s the Merch stand I need me a new t-shirt!
Words and photo’s: Manny Manson