Band of Friends at Space in Evanston, IL

Band of Friends featuring adopted Chicagoan Davy Knowles returned to Space in Evanston for what is becoming a Thanksgiving tradition.

Corey Dennison is a regular on the Chicago Blues scene, usually appearing as part of the Corey Dennison Band. The fact that they have two regular spots at the renowned Kingston Mines should give you an idea of the caliber of this group. This time, Corey took to the stage himself, armed with his trusty acoustic guitar and soulful voice. The stripped-back solo performance held everyone’s attention during his opening set. Throughout the performance, you could hear the soul, blues and rock influences that are deeply infused into Corey’s sound. A shout out must go to his interpretation of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a song that is often covered by artists but never reimagined in this way. Now this is how you open a show, people! It’s not very often you see opening acts receiving standing ovations, but this wasn’t just any opener. 

At this time of year, there are many traditions that we all follow (stuffing our faces with turkey and drinking too much Gluhwein to name just a couple). This was the second year in a row that Band of Friends made a stop at Space in Evanston the day after Thanksgiving, and we, for one, certainly hope this is a tradition that will continue. What better way to work off the turkey than listening to incredible musicianship and taking to your feet to dance it off if the urge should take you.

In the past the adrenaline rush of this show left us gasping for breath. This time we didn’t have to wait long to be breathless. Right from the very beginning, the pace and the atmosphere was set as they fired through some of Rory Gallagher’s punchiest, rockiest songs one after the other. By the end of the third song people in the crowd were looking at one another, mouthing “wow!” and swigging their drinks to help take a momentary breather.

If you’ve never seen the Band of Friends tour, then please take our word for it and get yourself along to one. The band is comprised of Gerry McAvoy on bass and Brendan O’Neill on drums, both of whom used to perform alongside the late, great Rory Gallagher. Add to that, the passion of lifelong Gallagher fan, Davy Knowles on vocals and guitar and you have the recipe for one hell of a show. The chemistry between the three band members is evident from the moment they take to the stage, as is their love and commitment to paying tribute to Gallagher. You don’t need to be familiar with his music to be able to appreciate the musicianship and dedication that goes into this tour year after year. 

You’ll often hear people talk about a show being electric, but never has a truer word been spoken. Davy Knowles may not have been born in the Chicago area, but he’s certainly been taken in as one of their own, which gives this show an added boost. It never fails to sell out so you have to be quick on the button to make sure you manage to secure your tickets as soon as it goes on sale. The joy that these three have performing this music is almost tangible and is contagious. Every time they come to town, the crowd will take to their feet despite it being a seat and table venue. Every time, the standing ovations happen sooner. This time, the final notes of the first song were still ringing out as the audience took to their feet to show their appreciation. 

 If ever there’s proof that music brings people together, it was this show, as the audience chatted with others they’d met at previous shows. As everyone reluctantly filtered out of the venue, wishing the night wasn’t over, their smiles could be seen from far and wide – truly the sign of a great, fun evening. What better way to spend Thanksgiving? Same time and place next year? We hope so! Once again, they did Rory Gallagher proud!

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About Kirstine Walton 383 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!