Concert season has been in full swing this summer for Team GDW. With our previous weekend taking in The Sheepdogs at Jackson-Triggs and Blue Rodeo et al. at Budweiser Stage, and then the quick stop with Ian Foster and Harrow Fair mid-week, we were once again heading north for the second straight weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake. With all of the choices on offer through the Jackson-Triggs summer concert series, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings came strongly recommended, and we were eager to experience this band for ourselves.
Once again we were fortunate to be attending an outdoor show on a beautiful late summer evening. The temperature did opt to plummet once the sun decided to call it a day, but we’ll take some cooler temperatures over the ‘slight’ chance of rain that appeared in the original forecast. Given the headlining act, it was pretty easy to determine that Thompson Wilson would be the opening artist. After all, as the son of Blackie’s Tom Wilson, it made perfect sense to keep this a somewhat family affair. Kudos to Blackie’s Colin Linden for opening the festivities by stepping up to the microphone and welcoming Thompson to the stage.
Naturally Thompson Wilson would devote his time to performing tracks from his recently released “Homewood Tapes” EP. With the standard 35 minute opening slot, Thompson performed three songs in succession from the new EP, delighting the audience with “Seeping Through The Ground,” “Must Repeat,” and “Without You.” A brief moment with some equipment issues did not detract from his performance, and he certainly earned props for an observation made about a certain ‘aroma’ that was detected from off-stage. Closing his seven-track set list with “Take My Light Away,” Thompson Wilson proved to be yet another wonderful opening artist who we hope to see again soon.
Thompson Wilson Set List:
- Right On Back To You
- Seeping Through The Ground
- Must Repeat
- Without You
- Bang Bang Boom
- Take My Light Away
The main event would follow shortly after, as Blackie and the Rodeo Kings made their way onto the stage to a very loud and welcoming ovation. The trio of Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing, and Colin Linden would respond with a sixteen track set list that covered both new and old material, along with many tales from each artist to further engage with the crowd. The band would concentrate heavily on material from their most recent “King And Kings” album, as well as both “Kings Of Love” and “Bark” throughout the show. Launching immediately into “Water Or Gasoline” from “Bark,” Tom Wilson would not only take the lead on “Stoned” from this album, but also tell the tale of a connection with former US President George W Bush before performing “Swinging From The Chains Of Love.”
With the latest “Kings And Kings” album being a collaboration between the band and numerous other artists, all three members would take time to give appreciation to those that worked with them, notably Buddy Miller, Dallas Green, and Nick Lowe. Tracks performed from this album would include “Live By The Song,” “Playing By Heart,” and “Secret Of A Long Lasting Love.” Announcing that Dallas Green could not join them on stage to perform “Beautiful Scars,” Tom Wilson invited his son Thompson to return to the stage and fulfill the joint vocal duties. It was a pleasure to not only see father and son share the same microphone, but to witness the genuine rapport between them from their eyes, smiles, and other body language. Thompson would rejoin the band later in the evening during the encore performance.
“Kings Of Love” was represented well too, with the popular tracks “49 Tons” and “Remedy” played in succession towards the end of their set. Tom Wilson once again would enlighten all with an entertaining story about how he came to become an author, while Colin and Stephen would add other tales, jokes, and one-liners throughout the evening. The band were incredibly proud to have been asked to perform “Gotta Stay Young” in Nashville, TN, at the Grand Ole Opry, and delighted the crowd with a rendition of this song. Closing with a fast and furious “White Line,” Blackie and the Rodeo Kings returned for an encore that included “High Wire” from the recent album, before inviting Thompson back once more to end with “The Price Of Love.”
Being familiar with the solo works from Stephen Fearing, he naturally amazed us all evening with his musicianship and vocals. With his abundant energy levels and mastery of the lead guitar, Colin Linden left us seemingly gasping for air whilst observing his amazing talents. And with his larger than life stage presence and persona, Tom Wilson commanded our attention all evening and charmed everybody with his warm and endearing personality. As a trio, along with the support of their band, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings electrified the crowd all evening, making it an absolute pleasure to share their unique blends of rock/country/blues at the sold-out Jackson-Triggs amphitheatre. Here is a band that deserves to be invited back to this prestigious concert series, and Team GDW would be more than happy to do this all over again with them.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings Set List:
- Water Or Gasoline
- Let’s Frolic
- Live By The Song
- Playing By Heart
- Gotta Stay Young
- Secret Of A Long Lasting Love
- Beautiful Scars
- Sometimes It Comes So Easy
- Black Sheep
- Swinging From The Chains Of Love
- 49 Tons
- White Line
- The Price Of Love