We were beyond excited to cover our first live show since March, and who better to draw us out of hibernation than Davy Knowles.
The last show we covered on Loud Hailer right before the quarantine lockdowns began was at the City Winery in Chicago, so it felt only fitting that we’d head back there for our first venture out for live music seven months later. To say it was incredible to experience live music again in person, and not a live stream on our TV at home, is an understatement. What made it that bit more special was that it was for Davy Knowles.
Having seen Davy Knowles perform live on a large number of occasions, we knew we’re not going to be disappointed. Knowles was joined on stage by Tod Bowers (bass) and Michael Caskey (drums), and they could be forgiven for being a little rusty playing together for the first time after such a long break, but they didn’t miss a beat. To be honest, the show had very much a feeling of being a fly on the wall watching three friends jamming, and reading where each other wass going to take the music.
Not one to sit still for five minutes, Knowles was one of the first musicians we saw make use of the unscheduled downtime and took to social media and streaming, first setting up his Club Quarantine and then later Unlocked. Both of these allowed fans to become members to gain access to exclusive content. With all of this content, which often was being posted daily, it’s no wonder that Davy’s guitar playing was absolutely on point during the City Winery show. It was actually a surprise that there weren’t flames coming off the fretboard due to the speed and ferocity of his playing. Definitely no signs of rust there!
As amazing as it felt to be back watching live music, we would be amiss not to say it felt a little odd. The capacity of the music hall was reduced significantly, with only 50 people allowed to attend in the usually full 200 capacity venue. The room was set up, socially distanced, with tables allowing either two or four people at each. Although those in attendance were masked up, it didn’t stop them from singing along, albeit sounding a little muffled. It was also the first Davy Knowles show we’ve attended where the crowd hasn’t ended up on their feet but rest assured, this was only due to COVID-19 restrictions.
As everyone took to their seats and the venue lights dimmed ready for the show to begin, the voice of the MC told us to be prepared to have our faces melted off – and melted off they were! The band kicked off the night with rip-roaring crowd-pleasers like “Ain’t Much of Nothin'” and “Riverbed” which set the tone for the night ahead. We caught Knowles and the guys’ show in Lombard back in March, and as soon as the opening chords rang out, we were transported right back to that night as if it was just yesterday. The cobwebs were officially blown off!
The night took a meander throughout Knowles’ back catalog with a good smattering of covers thrown in for good measure. The first portion of the show was electric in all senses of the word, before things were strippedback for an acoustic section which saw Davy perform some emotion-bearing songs by himself. This solo part of the show saw him perform his dad’s “Watchmaker’s Blues” for the first time live. He also performed a powerful tear-jerker that he wrote around the time his wife was pregnant with their first child. If you want to hear the song for yourself, check it out here from when Davy performed it live at Loud Hailer HQ.
As the band joined him on the stage once again, Knowles strapped on his trusty PRS and kicked the volume and tempo back up to round out the evening the way it began with some good old raucous rock and blues. It’s clear to see that Knowles has not rested on his laurels during the lockdown, and has used the time productively. The speed and precision with which he was playing were impressive, to say the least. It goes without saying that we’d rather be able to stand in a packed out music hall, getting to listen to our favorite musicians in our favorite venues, shoulder to shoulder with like-minded fans. But until it is safe for things to return to normal (whatever the future “normal” will be), we have to take these opportunities to support music artists and venues alike, and feed our soul with the live music experience it’s been yearning for. So thank you to Davy, Tod, Michael, and the City Winery for taking the necessary precautions to keep us all safe and giving us a night we thought we would have to wait another seven months to experience again.