JD &The Straight Shot – Live at Manchester Arena – June 27th – (support to Don Henley)
Words by Mark Dean || Photos by Christopher James Ryan Photography
Well one thing about branching out and covering different musical genres/styles is that you just never know what new band will be presented for your listening pleasure. Thus it was when I was invited along to the Arena Manchester to check out JD & THE STRAIGHT SHOT. First thing that hit us on entering the Arena was the repeated loudspeaker announcements regarding a total ban of using mobile phones in the Arena. A new concept in the modern era. It was clear from the outset that this would be strictly enforced by the arena staff. Unfortunately, the rule extended also to covering the support tonight -despite having an approved/official photo pass. My photographer had to shoot their set from the mixing desk, as he hadn’t anticipated this eventuality – the longer lenses in his photography equipment had been left at home. Limited images from the set so I guess it’s down to myself to attempt to convey the magic of their performance…. We had been afforded excellent seats and from that vantage point we did have fantastic visibility not obscured of the full stage from the floor of the arena…only a few rows from the front.
Prior to the concert I had done some research into the band’s music primarily their recent release Ballyhoo, utilising different and quite diverse instruments from my usual listening styles I was certainly intrigued. Thus I was instantly captured by the fact that there was no visible drum kit, and what was this…. violins? Traversing several musical genres bluegrass/country and gospel they had an instant connection with the Don Henley audience who quickly engaged with clapping and much foot stamping…
Playing the ringmaster role quite literally during the song “Ballyhoo,” front man Jim Dolan was an energised and enigmatic leader. Nice touch when he produced quite literally a rabbit from his hat for a particularly young audience member who had been eagerly waving aloft a Don Henley personal placard. Playing most of the Ballyhoo album Jim regaled the audience with a personal anecdote and tale regarding each track. Many apparently have been utilised in movies which seemed largely only known in the United States …Despite the relative indifference to the titles being reeled off by the singer the fans still willingly embraced the tunes.
Country sounding elements were warmly received and suitably embraced by the audience-cowboy hats tipped off to the tour promoter for the pairing…It was exact and definitely well on the money.
Personal set favourites included the single “Better Find a Church,” and “Don’t Waste My Time,” although to pick individual favourites would be giving the other tracks a disservice.
Leave your prejudices and narrow-mindedness at the door, embrace the raw, basic, earthy elements of music and lift up your heart and give thanks at the gospel of JD &The Straight Shot – singing from a hymn sheet designed for all.