A three hour set was divided, as normally, between Hank 3's "kuntry" and his heavier metal tendencies in the second half of the show. On stage at 7.30 Hank and the band gave their usual hi-energy renditions of a range of songs taken from the last few albums which included Six Pack Of Beer, Life Of Sin, Trooper's Holler, Rebel Within, Country Heroes and Dick In Dixie.With barely a moment to take breath one song ran straight into another, with most delivered at break-neck pace. Since his last visit his band has gone through many changes but this current band can deliver the songs with a large degree of skill and verve. Fundamental to this was the powerhouse drumming of Shaun Williams who was as at ease with the subtle swing of classic country as he was with the more forceful material where his drumming sounded added a depth that sounded like thunder. He was aided in driving the band by upright bassist and backing vocalist Zach Shedd. The music was given it's country textures by the trio of fine players that are David McElfresh on fiddle, Daniel Mason on banjo and long-time band member, producer and upright steel guitarist Andy Gibson. Gibson is a sonic showman adept at playing old school steel, as on the cover version on Hank 3 grandfather's ("the hillbilly Shakespeare") I'll Never Get Out OF This World Alive to delivering the atmospherics of some the more recent material. The focus of the show though is undoubtably Hank 3 and although he says little between songs other than short summations of the songs themes they played. He communicates through the music and his overall stance. He is dressed in his usual multi-patched trousers, cowboy boots, customized waistcoat and cowboy hat and commands the respect of the mixed audience. There are the older obvious country fans, metal heads and all points in between. Lots of devil hand salutes abound from the front rows. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the first hour and a half though once the lights went down and the stage was left to Hank and drummer Williams there tended to be a polarization of opinion. Some loved all parts of the show but others found the second section of the show a step too far and retired gracefully. But fair play to Hank 3, he does his own thing and gives it his all in his three hour set and no one should feel short changed. Hank 3 has created a sub-genre and plays with obvious passion and commitment for his fans and so deserves all the credit that comes his way. Still a rebel within and a rebel without.
Live photographs by Steve Rapid