It was certainly Brantley Gilbert’s kinda party at London’s Budweiser Gardens on Thursday night (Jan. 24). The American country singer took to the stage for the first time in 2020 literally living up to the tour name and opening song Fire’t Up with massive flames illuminating the stage right from the start.
With back-to-back platinum albums and a grassroots following millions strong, Gilbert has found a niche for himself in the broad country music world. It felt like the Start.ca Performance Stage was the scene of a classic Lynyrd Skynryd show, with pyro, flames, massive lights and risers. The addition of a few truck wheels gave this new tour a distinctive BG Nation feel.
Dressed in a plain black baseball cap, sleeveless hoodie, cargo pants and leather bracelets, Gilbert looked more like a member of Metallica than a country star, but that’s what the fans love about him.
Loaded with charisma, great songs and a powerhouse voice, 35-year-old Gilbert showed why his last three albums have skyrocketed to number one on the US charts. Gilbert performed a cross-range of material from his catalog, including a couple from his latest album Fire & Brimstone, including a touching take on his hit What Happens In A Small Town, accompanied by a recording of Lindsey Els’ vocals.
Continuing his small-town rocker vibe, Gilbert was joined on stage by support acts Dylan Scott and Brandon Lay for Small Town Throwdown to the delight of the fans. The trio sounded and looked great together.
Gilbert closed the night with his biggest worldwide hit Bottoms Up.
Dylan Scott warmed up the crowd with tight nine-song set for his Canadian fans, including a medley of retro covers like Fishin’ in the Dark, I Like It, I Love It, Dust on the Bottle, Check Yes or No and When You Say Nothing at All. The high energy performer brought along the largest drum riser that I’ve ever seen used by an opening act – his drummer, Derrick Cline, must have loved playing that high up.
A little more casual and traditional looking than Gilbert, Scott was armed with a black Yosemite Reservation cap, plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy boots for his audio assault. But the more reserved country look didn’t stop him from rocking out. Live, Scott has a harder edge than his records, making the country-pop songs come across like grand rock tracks.
Scott most stayed with material from his latest EP Nothing To Do Town, including the beautiful ballad Nothing. He’s a dedicated performer to keep an eye on – it won’t be long before he headlines shows like this himself.
Brandon Lay opened the show.
All photos by Dan Savoie
Brantley Gilbert’s Setlist:
1. Fire’t Up
2. Kick It in the Sticks
3. It’s About to Get Dirty
4. The Ones That Like Me
5. The Weekend
6. You Don’t Know Her Like I Do
7. Small Town Throwdown (With Dylan Scott & Brandon Lay)
8. Bad Boy (Acoustic)
9. Modern Day Prodigal Son (Acoustic)
10. Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
11. Read Me My Rights
12. My Kinda Party
13. What Happens in a Small Town
14. Dirt Road Anthem (Colt Ford cover)
15. One Hell of an Amen
16. Take It Outside
17. Blue on Black
18. Country Must Be Country Wide
19. Bottoms Up