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The Dead South review: Undeniably original and completely captivating

The Dead South performing at OPEN in Norwich, 19th April 2018. Photo: Danielle Booden

The Dead South performing at OPEN in Norwich, 19th April 2018. Photo: Danielle Booden

Danielle Booden

The Dead South, with support from Del Suelo, brought a top class show to a sold out OPEN in Norwich last night [April 19].

The Dead South performing at OPEN in Norwich, 19th April 2018. Photo: Danielle BoodenThe Dead South performing at OPEN in Norwich, 19th April 2018. Photo: Danielle Booden

Hailing from Regina, Canada, Del Suelo took to the stage with just his guitar to open up the show to what was already a fairly moderate crowd.

As people began filtering from the bar to the stage area, he explained how he had joined the tour quite late, and was honoured to have been asked by his good friends, The Dead South, to be a part of the tour.

He performed a selection of his original material also incorporating a harmonica into a few of his songs. On one of the hottest days of the year so far, if you shut your eyes and listened to his music, it was easy to feel like you were somewhere far away relaxing on a sandy white beach.

His music, his presence and his demeanour were all very charming and he took charge of that stage like a true professional, interacting with the audience which in turn saw people warm to him very quickly.

Throughout his set, he interspersed funny anecdotes from his life and the tour so far which made him that much more relatable.

With a voice that echoed around the high ceilings of OPEN and a solid performance to go alongside this, he was a perfect opener for the headliners and worthy of being included on the tour.

And now the wait for The Dead South. As the time drew closer, more and more people piled into the venue, consuming beer after beer, waiting for the show to start.

As we waited, I hadn’t quite anticipated there being so many people turn up to the show. Who’d have realised that there were so many other folk-bluegrass fans lurking in the streets of Norwich.

It was a pleasant surprise however, and the ever-growing popularity of this genre in the UK is echoed in the fact that the show had to be upgraded to a larger space just before Christmas due to tickets selling out.

Having only been recently acquainted with The Dead South, their signature sound and look was immediately apparent as I worked my way through their numerous music videos online ahead of the show.

Their debut album ‘Good Company’ includes guitars, cello, banjo, kick drum and mandolin – building the acoustic fundamentals for full lead vocals and harmonies. It mixes folk and bluegrass together perfectly.

Since the release of their second album ‘Illusion & Doubt’, they have proved to be an absolute force to be reckoned with touring all over the world.

“We are definitely closer to the Pogues than to Alison Krauss. Unfortunately, we do not possess much of the delicate elegance so we try and bring more energy and entertainment to our side,” explains singer and guitarist Nate Hilts.

Energy and entertainment is exactly what they brought to the stage. As they slowly appeared from behind the curtains and into the four spotlights, the crowd starting whooping and hollering, clearly ready to have a good time.

Dressed in their signature white shirts, black suspenders, black hats and black dress, they took to their instruments and kicked off the final part of the evening.

They dove straight in with a fast, wild track, which immediately showed off Mary Doyle’s banjo skills and lead singer Nate Hilt’s earthy vocals. With influences pulling from multiple genres, they strummed at unimaginable speeds to a beat that was so fast and uplifting that you would have been hard troubled to find one person in the venue that wasn’t already tapping their foot.

With a grin that already stretched from ear to ear, it was immediately apparent to me why this quartet has seen such success already.

Every single member of The Dead South looked the absolute part, and held their own on stage whilst also blending together perfectly to create a sound that was undeniably original and completely captivating. They are true professionals in the way that they handle their instruments, their presence on stage and the interaction that they had with the audience throughout.

The night consisted of tracks off both of their albums, even being treated to some new ones. The way that they transitioned between each song was expert, done with such ease, showcasing just how well their set list was put together.

One of my personal highlights was when they performed ‘In Hell I’ll Be Good Company’, one of their most popular tracks from the album ‘Good Company’. They replicated the music video with the ever popular whistles, signature marching and foot tapping melodies. As expected, the crowd went wild for this song, with groups of people in the crowd joining in and dancing along.

As the evening began drawing to a close, the crowd were completely lost in the music, seeing off drink after drink and dancing to their hearts content. As the band completed their set and left the stage, the crowds began cheering and stomping their feet, demanding that they returned to the stage to perform “one more song”.

In true gig fashion, they arrived back on stage to perform their encore. They had a few more songs in the bag which the audience were more than delighted to hear.

It was a genuinely fun evening packed with top class music. The Dead South are an absolute force to be reckoned with and will no doubt continue to sell out venues all over the world. All you have to do is take a look at the crowd to know just how well received they are.

If you’re ever looking to go and see a band that can instantly create a great atmosphere and are highly talented in their field then The Dead South are for you.

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