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If you believe that first impressions count, then The Commoners made a fantastic initial impression on the South Yorkshire crowd.

The Greystones, Sheffield – 18 April 2023

Troy Redfern

Anyone who has attended a club-size Rock gig in the last couple of years, surely must have seen slide guitar virtuoso Troy Redfern. I’m sure there must be a surfeit of advertising posters with “Support by Troy Redfern”; however, this evening the Herefordshire musician was co-headlining, and not only that, but also with a full band. Previously I’d witnessed Redfern as a solo artist, and also as a duo, but for this tour he is accompanied by the dynamic rhythm section of bass player Keira Kenworthy and drummer Finn McAuley. The former also provided backing vocals and had come dressed to impress, almost outshining Troy Redfern in his customary “Captain Jack Sparrow” guise (copyright Peter Noble) and his trademark Redfern Rambler Signature Hat (by Vera Black). McAuley obviously hadn’t got the stage-wear brief, but impressed with the ferocity with which he thumped the skins. For a small room, the sound was relatively good although Redfern’s vocals could have done with being a tad higher in the mix as they were sometimes getting a little lost behind his guitar.

I sometimes question artists playing too many songs from unreleased albums, and this evening Redfern introduced five new compositions from his forthcoming studio album, including opener ‘All Night Long’. However, interspersing these new tracks with fan favourites, ‘Sweet Carolina’, ‘Down’ and ‘Dark Religion from last year’s critically acclaimed ‘The Wings Of Salvation’, plus ‘Scorpio’, ‘Waiting For Your Love’ and set-closer ‘Sanctify’ from 2021’s ‘The Fire Cosmic’, proved to be a popular decision and did not see too many punters wandering off to the bar in the next room. Of the new numbers, the two that stood out were ‘The Fever’ and ‘The Strange’. Redfern joked that as all artists say that the new album is the best to date; evidence this evening would suggest in this case the guitarist could very well be right.

Setlist: All Night Long / Sweet Carolina / Come On / Get Away / Dark Religion / Down /The Native / Scorpio / The Fever / The Strange / Waiting For Your Love / Sanctify

The Commoners

This was my, and probably many others in attendance, introduction to The Commoners, a band hailing from Toronto, Ontario. The Southern Rock quintet were making their debut UK tour and obviously loving every minute of it. I would estimate that there were one hundred in attendance, which was enough to generate a great atmosphere, but not too many that social distancing became an issue. Indeed, the reaction to Troy Redfern had been great, but it seemed to step up a notch for the North Americans.

The quintet of Chris Medhurst (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Ross Hayes Cirtrullo (lead guitar), Ben Spiller (bass), Adam Cannon (drums), plus Miles Evans-Branagh (keys) looked like they had been swept off the Bayou in the mid-seventies and transported to The Thornbridge Brewery pub in 2023.

A large proportion of their set was taken from the wonderful ‘Find A Better Way’ opus released last year. During their set I was trying to think of how to best describe their sound, and I thought of a blend of The Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers, so it was no surprise that they included a cover of the latter’s ‘Sweet Melissa’.

New tracks ‘Devil Teasin’ Me’ and ‘Who Are You? (Ain’t Knocked Down’) bode well for the next studio release and were played either side of the tour-de-force ‘Body & Soul’, which surprisingly did not make the cut for the ‘Find A Better Way’ album. ‘Naturally’, a song written about being far away from home, was dedicated to drummer Cannon by bassist Spiller. The band thanked Planet Rock on a couple of occasions for plugging their music, and genuinely seemed emotional to the very positive reaction they got following set closer ‘Fill My Cup’; so much so, they treated us to one more song, ‘Shake You Off’.

If you believe that first impressions count, then The Commoners made a fantastic initial impression on the South Yorkshire crowd. They may be The Commoners by name, but greatness is surely in the future for this aspiring Southern Rock band.

Setlist:- More Than Mistakes / Find A Better Way / Devil Teasin’ Me / Body & Soul / Who Are You? (Ain’t Knocked Down) / Naturally / Deadlines / Sweet Melissa / Hangin’ On Again / Fill My Cup

Encore: Shake You Off

Review by: Mark Donnelly
Photographs courtesy of: Mal Whichelow

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