The Cadillac Three – Rock City, Nottingham – Monday 5th September
Review by Kristal Harpur | Photos by Jack Barker
Rock City in Nottingham is a venue that had been on my go-to list for a long time, being such an iconic venue. Entry to the venue seemed nice and smooth, and with there being only two bands on the bill, the venue felt pretty much full by the time Lindsay Ell took the stage. As cool in temperature as the venue felt upon entering, by the time the crowd had formed the temperature was sweltering (and that was from standing near the back!).
Opening with ‘Wildfire’ from the album The Project, Lindsay Ell radiated confidence from the outset. The vibe between Ell and her touring musician (Drums, piano, and backing vocals) felt so easygoing like you were witnessing a jamming session between friends rather than a live performance at a sold-out venue.
Off her latest album Heart Theory, ‘Want Me Back’ had the crowd swaying along, taking a little bit of motivation to warm up, but it was a Monday night! Taking a break to say hi to the crowd, and introduce her next song by giving a very uplifting and positive speech of “Anybody who feels like they have fallen behind in life, to hell with that! You are right where you need to be” before beginning the brand-new track “Right on time,” released in April 2022.
Egging on the crowd with “Repeat after me” before singing “EEEOO”, there was great participation from the audience, before playing a medley of No Doubt’s “I’m Just a Girl” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It got the crowd singing along, even if people may not have known too many of Ell’s original songs (which I think will definitely have changed after the cheers she was receiving at the end of every song). Ending with ‘Criminal’, the venue was buzzing with energy and ready for The Cadillac Three.
The music between bands is always a great pass of time if there are some good tunes playing, however, when the crowd reacts to a song the way they did to “It Ain’t My Fault” by Brothers Osborne, it definitely helps to create entertainment during the wait.
I was impressed with the lighting setup compared to the last time we saw The Cadilac Three in the UK. If I had to describe lead singer and guitarist Jaren Johnston in one short phase, it would be effortlessly cool, wearing his sunglasses for the entire set and keeping his drink close by with a built-in cup holder on his mic stand. Opening with 3 classic favourite songs “Peace Love & Dixie,” “Slide” and “Soundtrack to a Sixpack” from their album Bury Me in My Boots had the crowd’s vocal cords warmed up.
Johnston took a break to joke about the temperature in the room and how great it was for them to be back at Rock City. Continuing the theme of groups of songs from albums, “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy,” “Blue El Camino,” “Crackin’ Cold Ones With the Boys”, and “The Jam” were next up on the setlist, all from their 2020 album Country Fuzz. Johnston then took a break as the house lights came across the crowd and said “Holy hell there’s a lot of you! I guess that’s what a sold-out Nottingham looks like!” which received massive cheers from the full venue. The absolutely packed venue cheered as the band began to play ‘Bury me in my Boots’, another classic track that it would have been almost criminal to omit from the setlist.
One of the things that I like about The Cadilac Three is that they don’t need to be running around the stage in order to have a massive stage presence. Instead, they let their musical ability do the talking while performing their songs with topics that are unapologetically southern, with reference to whiskey, cars, or Jesus in almost every song.
With Johnston leaving the vicinity of his mic stand, he jumped off the stage to get closer to the audience during “Hank & Jesus.” Taking the time to take care of the audience after ‘American Slang’, Johnston requested that the security staff bring some water for the fans in the front. This would have definitely been appreciated as even at the back of the room we were melting.
Getting a huge cheer to “Where all my ladies at?”, the band dedicated “Runnin’ Red Lights” one of the band’s more romantic songs to them. Lindsay Ell was then invited back onto the stage for a few songs, while Ell’s mic stand was being set up Johnston explained that they were about to play a few tracks from “The best thing to come out of the pandemic”, their latest album Tabasco and Sweet Tea. While it is always a nice gesture to bring the support act out of stage which adds an extra element to the show, unfortunately, it didn’t seem like this evening’s additional appearance from Ell went entirely to plan as from where I was stood, it was impossible to hear her vocals, suggesting some technical problems with her microphone.
With a quick break for Johnston to get the crowd to say hi to his son who was watching the show on Facetime, he took a moment to say how they were looking forward to seeing their families (and/or pets) with this being the penultimate show of the tour. As soon as Johnston started the opening lyrics to “White Lightening,” the crowd was singing every word, with the lead joking “Oh you know it then?” Flowing straight into “The South,” Johnston could have had a break throughout the chorus’ with how loud the crowd was. I thought that this was the finale song, to be surprised by one final song, “I’m Southern.”
The atmosphere the entire evening was incredible, and it always amazes me how music brings people together no matter what genre.
Photos by Jack Barker
The Cadillac Three