Molly Hatchet + Sons Of Liberty
Wednesday 5th July 2023
The 100 Club, London
Judging by the queue, it was obvious that it’s been a while since Molly Hatchet had been in town and I have to admit that it has been a very long time since I last saw these guys either.
But first we have to mention another band in the same ‘Southern Rock’ vein: the rather excellent Sons of Liberty. Keeping in tune with the theme of the night, it would have been hard to pick a better support band. I have seen this band a few times recently and they always deliver.
Kicking in with 'Big Ass E' followed by 'Time To Fly' set the tone for the evening with Southern grooves setting the theme and a slew of new songs! It was good to see the new singer Russ Grimmett bedding in well and stretching himself.
Going back to their first album 'Animism', the intro to 'Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief' was received to huge applause and generated the first sing-along of the night! Straight into 'Up Shit Creek', delving deep into their Southern roots with Grimmett’s harp playing delivering.
Winding up their set with a series of tunes from their 'Aces and Eights' album: 'Damaged Reputation', 'I Come In Peace' and 'Don’t Hide Behind…' before set closers 'Beef Jerky Boogie' and my personal favourite 'Ruby Starr'.
It’s not often that a minor ‘Southern Belle’, Ruby Starr, gets an unexpected boost after so many years. It’s a shame she is not around to appreciate it any longer.
Their star is on the rise. Catch them while your can. Great set, shame is was only visible in glorious red lighting.
On to the main event: Molly Hatchet! Now I realise that it has been a very long time since I last saw these guys (over almost 40 years!), albeit with a rather different line-up, but this is about the current crop of musicians, even if some of them have been around in this band, for quite a few years and after a few days at the legendary Abbey Road studios, tonight, Bobby Ingram and the boys were on fire. They were definitely inspired by the visit and it showed.
Straight into 'Whiskey Man' from the 1978 album: ’Flirting With Disaster’ and the mood was set! Mining even deeper, we were treated to 'Bounty Hunter' from their eponymous debut! This allowed guitarist Ingram to stretch, delivering a blistering solo to everyone’s great delight and then it was straight into 'Gator Country', from the same album. Skynyrd get a proper shout out in this one and rightly so too. With the crowd just where the needed to be, the band dropped into a cover of The Impressions 'It’s All Over Now'! I hadn’t expected that.
Back to the ‘Flirting…' album and the tune 'One Man’s Pleasure' and more of that classic Southern grind. Devil’s Canyon' moved things along before the solo break featuring birthday boy Shawn Beamer on drums and the ubiquitous cake delivery and sing-a-long. I hope he actually got some cake at the end. Now back to the serious stuff. 'Beating The Odds' was next up, though probably not my favourite song, worked for the crowd around me and there were a few! Next up we were treated to the much darker track 'Gonna Live ’til I Die' from the 2010 album ‘Justice’, a much heavier track than I had expected from these Southern boys, but it didn’t suffer from it either. Maybe a little too much of the Wishbone Ash harmony guitars but hats off to the solo guitar and keyboard rendition of the same, but that’s my little gripe…
Keeping things somewhat up-to-date with 'Son Of The South' from the 2005 album ‘Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge' with the obligatory “Hell Yeah’s” in the chorus keeping the audience participation going! Back to the classic 'Fall Of The Peacemakers', a title that really lets Bobby Ingram go! This led nicely into 'Jukin’ City', some of that classic Southern groove that we were all there for. Nice, but this led into the classic Bobby Keys outro section of 'Layla' and unfortunately, that always means that your lot is almost up and sadly so was the case. At which point we were treated to an excellent way to end a set: a cover of The Allman Brothers song 'Dreams', which seemed like an very appropriate way to end the show. Give tribute where it’s due and without the Allmans, there might never have been a Molly Hatchet. We can only guess…
But the band weren’t done yet. It was back to 1978 and 'The Journey' from the classic ‘Flirting With Disaster’ album before it was time to serve up that very song! And so, the set was ended with the classic: 'Flirting With Disaster', a song some fans had waited a very long time for. With it’s boogie in full effect, the band went out in style!
It has been a while since we last saw this band in this country and even longer since I last saw these guys, but was it worth the wait? Too bloody right it was and definitely I won’t wait that long again. These guys do what they do with style and a certain Southern swagger. Highly recommended. Do not miss!