Whiskey Shivers review: There aren’t many ways that a Wednesday evening could have been better spent

Whiskey Shivers. Photo: Sean Daigle

Whiskey Shivers. Photo: Sean Daigle - Credit: Sean Daigle

Whiskey Shivers, with support from Pirate Joe/The Foreign Locals, delivered a perfect Wednesday evening of music last night at OPEN in Norwich.

Support for the night came from local act Pirate Joe/The Foreign Locals. The opening slot doesn't always draw in much of a crowd, but it was pretty clear from the start that half of the crowd had turned up early to see what was one of the most interesting performances going.

Pirate Joe, aka Joseph Rio Santana Green, has an oddly skittish charm that you can't help but be entertained by. He's thoroughly enjoyable to watch and had the audience laughing the moment he arrived on stage with the two other band members.

Underneath all the bravado is a pure talent, someone who has a really impressive vocal range and is seriously talented on the guitar. It takes skill to be able to mess around as much as he does but still be able to pull of the performance.

A nod must be given to the accordion player who was absolutely phenomenal and the drummer who held everything together.

Their sound combined reggae-esque vocals and vibes with sweeping flamenco melodies that had the crowd dancing for the full hour's set.

It was an extremely memorable performance for all the right reasons and one that everyone thoroughly enjoyed - an absolute credit to the evening's entertainment.

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Having set up and tuned their own instruments, Whiskey Shivers hit the stage around 9.00pm to a thoroughly warmed up audience. For the first time ever, I was a bit unsure of how the headline act would follow on from such an incredible supporting set.

My worries were quickly put to rest as Whiskey Shivers started up in full force with fiddles, guitars, banjos and harmonies, all finely tuned and raring to go.

This is a group who have created a sound that sets them apart from the rest of the traditional bluegrass world. Their genre-pushing sound has been described as 'apocalyptic Americana' by the Washington Post and 'frenetic bluegrass' with a 'punk spirit' by NPR.

Hearing and seeing them perform live is even more intriguing than critics have described with a performance that is absolutely impossible to draw your eyes away from.

'We're going to party like it's Friday night' exclaimed frontman and fiddle master Bobby Fitzgerald as they stormed through song after song with impressive amounts of energy.

Fitzgerald did not stop smiling the whole time he was on stage, tearing up the strings of his instrument with beautifully precise melodies played at incredible speed.

This was enhanced by a quality performance on the banjo by James Bookert, funky basslines on the upright bass by Andrew VanVoorhees, a lively and talented effort on the guitar by Jeff Hortillosa and fast, driving beats on percussion by James Gwyn.

We got to hear vocals not only from Fitzgerald but both Bookert and Hortillosa as well which just continued to add layer after layer to the show. Their gritty voices made for a nice switch up throughout the night, once again proving how talented each individual member of Whiskey Shivers is.

It was fantastic to witness a band who have such a natural ability to take energy levels from zero to one hundred in minutes - and keep everyone dancing all evening.

Their encore was perhaps one of the best moments of the evening when they hopped down from the stage to join the crowd. They performed several songs unplugged, surrounded by the audience, where I felt we really got to hear just how incredible Whiskey Shivers are.

There's something about hearing instruments up close and personal that really draws you in closer to the experience. Their harmonies were somehow even more perfect, drifting out and filling the room with a warm, comforting sound.

There aren't many ways that a Wednesday evening could have been better spent and I would recommend over and over again that you catch Whiskey Shivers at the next available opportunity.

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