Nashville born heavy rock and blues 4-piece Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown are making significant waves as a support act on AC/DC’s current stadium tour. Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing them perform in the tiny North London venue that is Boston Music Room.
This was the gig for people who wanted to see Bryant without feeling obligated to hang around for a sixty-one-year-old man running around in a schoolboy’s uniform. I am definitely one of those people. Mark Curran, front man of acoustic two-piece first support artist Curran commented that having heard the sound check, he knew we would be talking about tonight as an ‘I was there’ moment for years to come. I don’t normally buy into that kind of overblown hyperbole. I was waiting to be convinced.
Curran were an amiable first support, whooping up a modest level of excitement with cries of “I can’t hear you London” and “Let me see those hands in the air” etc. about three minutes into their set. You had to admire their pluck given that the majority of the audience were still in The Boston Arms next door – and if you’ve ever drunk in the Boston Arms next door, you’d know that’s a commitment in itself.
The primary support came from Birmingham’s Broken Witt Rebels, a name derived from three random words on the front page of a newspaper on the basis that it simply had to be original. BWR have been making a lot of noise in all senses of the word in a very short period of time; so much so that they got a personal introduction tonight from Planet Rock radio. The band appeared to a very full room and they certainly hit the ground running. There are two EP’s in the bank, Howlin’ and the newly released Georgia Pine. BWR played an eight song set featuring a good mix from both.
It’s easy to see why the Rebels are creating such a buzz. The music is classy hard-edged blues influenced indie-rock and the tunes once wedged between the ears are hard to dislodge. A contemporary comparison could be The Temperance Movement, both in terms of the music and rasping vocals of front man Danny Core. The band delivered it with a confidence and charisma that belies their modest years and comparative inexperience – they’re good and you know they know it. Core especially was superb; strutting around and posing for the photographers. At one point he laid on the floor, nonchalantly propped up on one elbow for a blatant photo op. Of course, everybody duly obliged, though I was personally struggling to work out whether it was insanely cool or a little too David Brent for its own good. For his sake, I hope most people come down on the side of the former.
A few minutes later, Tyler Bryant took to the stage, a battered Stratocaster with a humbucker in the bridge slung around his neck. I quite like a Strat with a double coil pickup. It may not have been as Leo had intended, but you assume that whoever is playing it almost certainly has balls. The band started with Weak And Weeping, a four-minute aural assault that definitely cleaned wax from the ears. It’s safe to assume the assumption was correct.
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown were formed in Nashville when Tyler, aged seventeen left his native Paris, Texas to cement a future in music. Bryant had already established himself as a guitarist of prodigious talent; a year previously he had been invited by Clapton to play Chicago’s Crossroads Guitar Festival. The band are completed by Les Paul crashing Graham Whitford (son of Aerosmith founding member Brad), bassist Noah Denney and drummer Caleb Crosby. The four make a formidable quartet and generate a wall of noise that veers from the more traditional blues-rock of the debut album, 2013’s Wild Child, to a heavier, more guttural sound in the follow up EP, The Wayside. Less grit-swilling in the South, more coffee-supping in the Pacific Northwest.
When Bryant plays, he certainly gives it some beans. An aggressive picking style near the bridge and some wild string bending resulted in more broken strings than I’ve ever seen and his guitar tech really works for his cash. There were plenty of highlights, but none more so than during Lipstick Wonder Woman when Crosby left the relative anonymity of the drum stool and took the biggest tom-tom I’ve ever seen for a good thrashing with the audience on the floor. It was actually a neat trick to obscure Bryant swapping guitars before he also climbed into the audience to close out the song. This wasn’t Tyler’s only foray into the crowd. He was practically mugged by a sizeable female contingent when he embarked on a second excursion towards the end of the set. Overlook the curls and there’s a definite Marc Bolan/Robert Plant vibe going on. You can hardly blame them.
After around ninety minutes and a pair of extremely sweaty encores, the band were gone. I heard a few people in the room saying they had been blown away by Bryant at AC/DC’s Olympic Stadium gig a few days previously. It must be hard for the band swapping tens of thousands of people and an expansive stage for the intimacy of a darkened room occupied by a couple of hundred punters, but you would never have known. Given the pedigree of Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown and the quality of their performance tonight, you can’t help feeling they’re in for more of the former and less of the latter. An ‘I was there’ moment? Who can say. If they do achieve the level of success they deserve then almost certainly so. If not, it’s still one I’ll remember for a long time to come.
Live Review and Photography by Simon Reed. Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown 6th June 2016 at Boston Music Room, London.
See more of Simon Reed’s music photography on his personal website: www.musicalpictures.co.uk