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Download 2015: Blues Pills & Cadillac Three

Live Review

Venue: Zippo Encore Stage, Download

Day One at Download continues with Swedes and Southerners

This is a big step up for Blues Pills, but they've got all the attributes to become festival regulars. The look great, they've purchased a suitably enormous Blues Pills backdrop, and they're so much a product of another time (the 1970s), that it's almost a surprise when they fail to open with a patchouli-tinged crowd-pleaser like Nantucket Sleighride or Woman From Tokyo. Festivals suit them.

Instead, it kicks off with their own High Class Woman. There's a dominance of bassy, low-end rumble, the guitar is initially lost on the wind, but Elin Larson looks more confident than she has in smaller venues, and is much less goofy off the mic. They test the audience's patience by playing two ballads back-to-back in a short set, but the first, No Hope Left For Me, is the stand-out moment. The closing Devil Man, which starts with Elin howling, unaccompanied, like an abandoned banshee, is the moment when it all clicks into place, and the Swedes' soulful psychedelia may yet find a regular home on larger stages (FL).      .

Time now for the weekend’s fat first hit of the Deep South, with The Cadillac Three. “Can I get a ‘hell yeah’?!” beams frontman Jaren Johnston. The sun-cooked crowd respond with almost as much Southern gusto as him. Not as much as our Nashville trio though, who take every opportunity - in the form of heavy, country-frazzled “baddass rock’n’roll” - to remind us that they are, indeed, from the South. Starting with a beefed-up I’m Southern. 

“We’re tired and ready to fuck shit up,” Jaren declares with the happy but blazing relief of a man who’s just flown a gazillion hours from a Stateside gig, to find his band’s guitars haven’t made it across. Which is basically what happened, he tells us. Accordingly, armed with axes loaned by Aaron Keylock and Black Stone Cherry, the three of them sweat, fist-pump and lunge their way through a blistering set of deep, dirty rock’n’roll - part Dixie smiles, part Monster Munch crunch. 

The initial country sweetness of I’m Rockin’ is swapped for a ZZTop-esque metal sheen, newbie Peace Love And Dixie bodes well for their next record (which, following a long, successful live run for last LP Tennessee Mojo, fans must be itching to hear) and the cocksure, swaggery likes of Tennessee Mojo have a group of ladies next to us practically swooning.

Happy faces all round. Yee-haw... (PG)

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