For a dark, cold, winters night in Manchester a dose of sunny Nashville southern rock was just what was needed.
Since releasing their highly anticipated album ‘Southernality’; lead by the chart topping debut single ‘Smoke’ a Thousand Horses seem to have covered some substantial ground in the US, supporting fellow country heavyweights such as Darius Rucker and Jason Aldean.
For the Manchester date, a short UK stint compromising of two dates only in London and the aforementioned city, the evenings venue was the club academy. A fairly intimate venue accommodating around 600 persons.
‘Gods Gonna Cut You Down’ by Johnny Cash resonated throughout the room, creating suspense for the main act. Upon arrival the band, audaciously, opened with the track ‘Blaze Of Something’ taken from the forthcoming album. A track destined to be the lead single, with all the necessary components present. While it was well received considering, the running order may have hindered them from the initial full frontal attack that usually transpires with opening tracks. Nevertheless, after a brief harmonica introduction ‘Travelin Man’ followed, taking things into more familiar territory. A track that transcends perfectly in a live setting, building momentum then unleashing a marching groove for all onlookers to dance along to.
The succeeding segment was constructed of fan favourites taken from ‘Southernality’. This included the second single from the album ‘(This Aint No) Drunk Dial’ which garnered a great reaction from the audience who seemed to know the entire lyrics, the same of which appeared to ring true with many of the songs off the debut album.
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Bringing things down a tick or two was ‘Tennessee Whiskey’. Despite the lyrical content akin to that of ‘Smoke’; personifying an object to allow the track to be construed as a heartfelt love song, there were certainly anthemic moments allowing the crowd and band to sing together as one.
After a brief introduction to the band, including the two female backing singers, the band stated it was their first time in Manchester and how glad they were to be there; specifically to allow UK fans the opportunity to get an advance listen at tracks taken from the as-yet unreleased new album.
On that premise it was evident there was to be more new material, lining the mid section of the set were 3 new tracks, which in their own right were well received and didn’t stray too far from the feel of ‘Southernality’.
The culminating track from the new material was ‘Just For The Night’; delivered semi acoustically allowing a smooth transition to the simplistic, vocal driven ‘Back To Me’. One of the standout moments of the entire evening, allowing front man Michael Hobby to spotlight his vocal strength, in addition to giving the backing singers some spotlight.
The band had played one UK date prior to the 2 dates this time round, at the C2C: Country To Country Festival. During their set they performed the Otis Redding classic ‘Hard To Handle’, a track that was present in their set list. A perfect choice, stylistically (perhaps tipping off more the Black Crowes cover) it encompassed all the elements normally found in ATH songs.
‘Southernality’ was certainly the peak of the set. From the opening distinguishable riff you can’t help but feel engaged with the groove. It’s no wonder why the album was named after the track. Their signature track armed with full bodied, anthemic southern vibes throughout, sharing some similar qualities as Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
After leaving the stage briefly it was inevitable there was going to be an encore; after all their chart-topping ‘Smoke’ had still not been performed. Upon their return, following a gracious thank you for everyone coming out to see the band, that all too familiar riff introduced ‘Smoke’. One of the songs everyone in attendance was surely guaranteed to know extremely well. It went down a storm, again another prime example where a track feels fashioned for a live setting, with everyone going that extra mile to make a memorable night for all.
Blaze Of Something
Heaven Is Close
(This Aint No) Drunk Dial
Preachin’ To The Choir
Just For Tonight
Back To Me
Hard To Handle (Otis Redding cover)
Water Under The Bridges I Burn