American roots rockers Blackberry Smoke brought their Rasslin’ Is Real tour to a packed house at the Bronson Centre last night. Opening the night was the Cory James Mitchell Band from Sarnia, who have been opening many of Blackberry Smoke’s Canadian dates for the past couple of years. Last night was a bit like déjà vu for me because on March 12, 2020, just as COVID was starting to take hold around the world, these two bands graced this exact stage on the Till The Wheels Fall Off tour. Here we are, two years later, and the excitement for their triumphant return to Ottawa was palpable.
The Cory James Mitchell Band received a warm welcome from the eager crowd. Their dynamic set included the song “One Less Horse In This Town,” which Mitchell explained had been written following their split with their previous lead guitarist. He then introduced their new guitarist, Ottawa’s own Brock Tinsley, to raucous applause.
Blackberry Smoke jumped right into their set with “Fire In The Hole” from their 2014 album Holding All The Roses. The band’s southern rock style, and triple guitar attack from Charlie Starr, Paul Jackson and new addition Benji Shanks, made for numerous extended solos, with all three trading off licks.
For a crowd thirsty for some feel-good rock music, Blackberry Smoke did not disappoint, rocking the crowd with singalong anthems like “Waiting For The Thunder,” “Let It Burn,” and “Good One Comin’ On”. The set was punctuated with a few swirling, almost psychedelic instrumental interludes, and the band even threw in a snippet of Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” during the song “Sleeping Dogs”.
Last night marked the last show of the Canadian leg of their tour, which continues on in the U.S during the summer. Judging by the turnout last night, it hopefully won’t be too long before we see them again.
Their most recent full-length album, You Hear Georgia, is available everywhere, as well as their most recent EP of Rolling Stones covers, Stoned.