A Thousand Horses – Michael Hobby, Zach Brown, Graham DeLoach and Bill Satcher – enjoyed a huge breakthrough in 2015 with their number one single Smoke. The Platinum-selling track provided a launch platform for their major label debut Southernality, which was also certified Platinum by the RIAA. In 2017 they followed it up with Bridges, an album that contained a handful of new tracks and several live recordings. Fans have been patiently waiting for a new record and they won’t have to wait too much longer as it’s coming in 2020. Last night the band returned to the UK for a headline show at 229 Club, which was upgraded from the smaller room to the large one.
The show was as much a celebration of the band’s music so far as it was a preview of what’s to come when the new album lands next year. The band was clearly delighted to be back in the UK, their last visit was a couple of years ago for C2C, and they started the party with First Time. A Thousand Horses’ blend of Country and Southern Rock is unlike anything else in the Country genre at the moment and the band sounds better live than they do on record. That’s not a diss to their recorded material, it’s just they have an energy when playing live that’s hard to catch in a recording.
The raucous Trailer Trashed was a crowd pleaser and it led to the night’s first new track, Broken Heartland. The song is a progression sonically for the band and it fit neatly into the opening part of the set. The audience seemed to love it but Drinking Song, the second new song of the night, got a bigger reaction as the band raised their drinks on stage and the audience cheered at the top of their lungs. Tennessee Whiskey from Southernality took fans back to familiar territory before the best of the new songs arrived, Carry Me. The song had such an energy it was hard not to be swept away and frontman Hobby definitely showcased his swag during the performance.
Current single Livin’ My Best Life, a feel-good Southern rock anthem, was a highlight in the mid-part of the set as was the rousing, spine-tingling rendition of Sunday Morning. Preachin’ to the Choir from 2017’s Bridges was one of the tracks the crowd really responded to and Hobby sang the hell out of it. Define Me, another new song, showed a softer side to the band before they brought the fun back on Burn Like Willie, a cheeky nod to getting high in the spirit of the Country legend. My Time’s Comin’, the first taster released from the band’s new album, was a call-to-arms self-belief anthem that the band performed with considerable gusto.
Southernality kept the tempo high before the band exited the stage briefly. They returned for a three-song encore that included their huge smash Smoke, the soulful new song Every Time You Love Me and the swag-filled bombast of Travelin’ Man. Thanking the audience and grinning like a bunch of Cheshire cats, the band raised their drinks one more time before leaving the stage properly and drawing the night to a close.
A Thousand Horses are a band that you really need to see live. I can’t emphasise how much more of a connection you feel to them when you see them performing. The chemistry between the band is evident and you willingly go along for the ride. They barely let the energy drop all night, keeping the crowd engaged, singing and clapping along. They promised to return in the New Year (can anyone say C2C?) and when they do there’ll be an eager crowd waiting to party the night away with them again, and the chances are I’ll be among them.
Set list: 1. First Time 2. Trailer Trashed 3. Broken Heartland 4. Drinking Song 5. Tennessee Whiskey 6. Carry Me 7. Livin’ My Best Life 8. Sunday Morning 9. Preachin’ to the Choir 10. Define Me 11. Burn Like Willie 12. My Time’s Comin’ 13. Southernality 14. Smoke 15. Every Time You Love Me 16. Travelin’ Man Performance date: 19th November 2019