The Cadillac Three Show Their Class With Impressive Headline Show

The Cadillac Three wear their heart on their sleeves. Over the past decade, the trio of seasoned musicians from Nashville have built up their reputation through hard graft, touring, and, of course, a catchy tune or two along the way. It helps that their Southern country rock appeals to a wide audience, and with residencies on Planet Rock in recent times, there is no doubt that they will continue to increase their fan base as time goes by. 

The Cadillac Three – Stephen Wilson Jr. – Willy Cobb

Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024

Words And Photography: Paul Hutchings

The Cadillac Three - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
The Cadillac Three

Tonight, there can be no questioning their appeal amongst the rock public of South Wales. The venue is sold out, and viewing the heaving masses on the floor from the balcony as the trio power through their 23-song set, you can hardly slide a cigarette paper between fans. 

It’s hot, but to those singing every word, with attention focused on the stage, the temperature is irrelevant. 

The Cadillac Three - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

I’ve not seen these guys for a few years, so it was something of a surprise to remind myself just how focused the band’s crowd is. From the moment that Jared Johnson, Neil Mason, and Kelby Ray walk on the strangely cramped stage, this is almost an evangelical experience for many. 

The Cadillac Three - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They hang on every word that Johnson speaks between songs, as he thanks everyone for their continued support. There is genuine humility in their thanks, for it has been a rollercoaster couple of years. On the back of their aptly named sixth album, The Years Go Fast, which saw some of the most reflective work the band has written, this is a show that, like the rest of the dates on this tour, sees The Cadillac Three prove themselves to be very much worthy of a seat at the top table. 

They retain a brashness that I remember from previous shows, loud and, at times, almost obnoxious in their delivery. But there is a honed professional approach as well, with the inevitable confidence that you would expect from a band who are 20 years plus together in life and music. 

The Cadillac Three - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

They ease into their set, throwing in a triple whammy to build the tempo. I’m Southern, Slide and the crowd-pleasing Tennessee Mojo see the front rows in ecstasy, and through the initial burst of adrenaline-fuelled excitement, you quickly realise just how good this band is. 

Whilst Johnson is the focal point, being the only member of the band who can move around, it’s the lap steel playing of Ray that takes most of my attention. It’s integral to The Cadillac Three’s sound, and he delivers with a panache and style that is impressive. 

The Cadillac Three - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

But this is one cohesive unit, the sum of the parts being greater than any individual, and they lock together tightly. Four songs from the new album are welcomed like old friends, although inevitably it’s the likes of Down To The River, Bury Me In My Boots and the full crowd participation of Peace Love & Dixie that seem to really ignite the passion in the crowd. 

There are some quieter moments, with the emotion of Runnin’ Red Lights and the tension of Tabasco & Sweet Tea requiring and receiving the backing of the full crowd. 

The Cadillac Three - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s amazing watching most of the audience dancing and singing along as Johnson does a solo spot. And then there’s the culmination of the evening, as the band are joined by Stephen Wilson Jr’s lap steel buddy to for a rip snorting American Slang. White Lightning pushes the evening towards a final crescendo that is completed by their anthem, The South. 

Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
The Cadillac Three – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

It’s a triumphant evening, one of many, according to the posts I’ve seen about their whole tour. As The Cadillac Three headed for London’s Royal Albert Hall and their participation in The Highways Festival, it’s hard to argue that their headlining slot is fully deserved.

This is a band who, with just a little more pushing, could be playing in venues twice the size of the Tramshed very soon.

Stephen Wilson Jr

He mumbles his way through much of the set, and I admit that Stephen Wilson Jr’s narrative is, at times, unintelligible to me. The self-described ‘Death cab for Country’ seems much better known than I had anticipated amongst the packed crowd, many of whom seem as delighted to see the singer/songwriter from Southern Louisiana as they do the headliners. 

Stephen Wilson Jr. - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Stephen Wilson Jr. – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

His music is dark, a combination of country mixed with elements of grunge and alternative rock. 

His six-song set is entertaining, with opener Billy one of three from latest album Søn Of Dad. I’ll admit that it’s the lap steel which catches the ear, whilst Wilson Jr does his best to throw the odd shape. But he’s generally constrained by the need to be in front of a microphone and pedal board as he is reliant on numerous effects, so the movement is naturally limited. 

Stephen Wilson Jr. - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Stephen Wilson Jr. – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

A cover, which he admits he rarely does, sees him perform Nirvana’s Something In The Way. His vocals are a little generic, one that you’ve heard through a hundred similar artists, but the audience is engaged and shouts for him to return, suggesting that I may not be the target audience. 

Stephen Wilson Jr. - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Stephen Wilson Jr. – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

He finishes with Holler From The Holler, and it’s this song that suggests why he’s got big label support and a growing fanbase. Whether I would see him on his own is a moot point, but he’s certainly got something that most in the crowd loved.

Stephen Wilson Jr. - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Stephen Wilson Jr. – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
Willy Cobb

A 25-minute set is hardly enough time to get warmed up, but opener Willy Cobb gives it a good go. His alternative brand of Southern alternative music is drenched in grunge, which is unsurprising when he lists influences such as Nirvana and Tame Impala. 

Willy Cobb - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Willy Cobb – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

He’s backed by a bassist and drummer Neil Johnson, doing double duty before his main set with The Cadillac Three. The time flies by, Cobb breaks his wraparound shades to his own disgust, but his punk-edged ethos is enough. 

Willy Cobb - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Willy Cobb – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Willy Cobb has only recently released Cigarette Smell, which features in the set. He earns a vibrant round of applause from the already busy floor, and his work is done. 

By all accounts, the singer from Georgia is creating a stir in these circles. Remember where you heard the name. 

Willy Cobb - Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Willy Cobb – Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk
Tramshed, Cardiff - 16 May 2024
Tramshed, Cardiff – 16 May 2024. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

Sleeve Notes

Sign up for the MetalTalk Newsletter, an occasional roundup of the best Heavy Metal News, features and pictures curated by our global MetalTalk team.

More in Heavy Metal

Comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Search MetalTalk

MetalTalk Venues

MetalTalk Venues - The Devil's Dog Digbeth
MetalTalk Venues – The Green Rooms Live Music and Rehearsal
The Patriot, Crumlin - The Home Of Rock
Interview: Christian Kimmett, the man responsible for getting the bands in at Bannerman's Bar
Cart & Horses, London. Birthplace Of Iron Maiden
The Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton

New Metal News