Myles Kennedy + Holiday Oscar
@ Islington Assembly Hall, London
March 26, 2018
Review by Ryan Whitwell
Photography by Gavin Lowrey
Touring and promoting his new album, Year of the Tiger, Myles Kennedy has been performing mostly solo acoustic sets around the UK. I was fortunate enough to witness his sold out London show that was also the final date of the UK leg of the tour.
Holiday Oscar was the only support tonight. The light-hearted and sometimes sentimental acoustic numbers went down well as the solo artist sang about “real things that he actually knows about”.
Song themes included; The Internet, stolen French cars, and Trump’s impending “date” with Kim Jong Un. I especially liked the song about moving to London, as I’ve only lived in this city for 18 months and can relate to the jokes he was making about gentrification and how we’re all in various media jobs. The jokes themselves, in the songs and between them, were inoffensive and genuinely funny, which got the sold-out crowd in a good mood.
Annoyingly, that good mood was scuppered somewhat by the choice to play half an hour of Johnny Cash’s covers album over the PA between Holiday Oliver and Myles Kennedy. Not the happiest of albums, let’s be honest.
Fortunately, Myles Kennedy is a very likeable guy so the mood lifted pretty quickly as he walked out on stage after beginning the opening number off stage.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as Myles’ new solo album, Year of the Tiger, features other musicians. However tonight was just Myles, and a host of some very nice looking guitars. The stripped back acoustic sound and simple bass drum beats worked extremely well with every song he performed. It was especially impressive to hear so many songs from various points in his 20 year music career and it was a good reminder of just how prolific Myles is as a songwriter and lyricist.
There was a bit of concern as Myles told us he was coming down with a cold, which did seem prominent in the 4th number, Mars Hotel (The Mayfield Four). But whatever throat sweets he was popping seemed to kick in after that little wobble and his unique vocals gained a bit more confidence which remained for much of the set.
It wasn’t 100% solo, as Tim Tournier came out for a couple of numbers during the set, including Haunted by Design, taken from the new album. It must feel pretty good when you perform new stuff and the crowd respond just as well to that new stuff as they did the older and more familiar songs. The way they played reminded me of Led Zep’s Bronyar Stomp, with Tim on the higher notes and Myles playing rhythm.
The guitars were switched about quite often, I lost count of how many different guitars were handed to Myles, but the steel guitar really stood out for me (it was possibly the one used in the Rise Today video). I loved the bluesy slide in his performance of Blind Faith. It had a touch of low-fi, earthy distortion too, which worked very well with the blues style playing.
It’s hard not to do a song by song review, as the whole set was full of winners and gave the crowd plenty of chances to sing along. A good example of that was during Starlight, but a better example was for Open Your Eyes with the crowd emphatically chanting the distinctive “woahoooaaaahooooaaah” sections of the song.
The connection with the crowd was a strong one. Myles spent a few moments between songs to talk to the crowd, make fun of how his cold was affecting his voice with a “sexy” Barry White impression and respond to the occasional shouts of “I love you” from the front row. Also, after his rendition of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” (which was a nice treat) we had a chance to comically boo Myles’ wife as he explained she had never heard that song before, all in jest of course. The room had a great feeling of appreciation as I think everyone in the Islington Assembly was a real fan of Myles and his music from all of his various bands and projects.
The singalongs continued, and during “Watch Over You” (Alterbridge) I think Myles could have stepped away from the microphone and let the fans sing instead, they were so up for it.
A short break before the encore and again, plenty of singing along to the ‘la la la’ points of “Love Can Only Heal”, no prompt needed. And ending on “Rise Today”, which was a good choice as it gives a great chance for the crowd to give some more backing vocals. Overall a great and intimate set that highlighted the talent Myles Kennedy possess.
1. Devil on the Wall
2. Standing in the Sun (Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators)
3. Lover (Alter Bridge)
4. Mars Hotel (The Mayfield Four)
5. Addicted to Pain (Alter Bridge song)
6. Starlight (Slash)
7. Haunted By Design
8. Blind Faith
9. Open Your Eyes (Alter Bridge)
10. White Flag (The Mayfield Four)
12. The Trooper (Iron Maiden cover)
13. Traveling Riverside Blues (Robert Johnson cover)
14. World on Fire (Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators)
15. Wonderful Life (Alter Bridge)
16. Watch Over You (Alter Bridge)
17. All Ends Well (Alter Bridge)
18. Year of the Tiger
19. Love Can Only Heal
20. Rise Today (Alter Bridge)