Review: Dirty Honey – Tramshed, Cardiff

Dirty Honey/Baby Said

Tramshed, Cardiff

13/02/2024

I lost count of the number of people imploring me to go and see Dirty Honey on their UK tour, so I bit the bullet and made my way up the motorway to Cardiff and the Tramshed to do just that. While I could see why they are held in such high regard, the evening became somewhat frustrating and ultimately tinged with disappointment.

Doors opened at 7 pm, so I was a little surprised that the first and only support band wasn’t due on stage until 8.30! That is a LONG time for a room full of people to hang around waiting for action on stage.

That support was a band called Baby Said, featuring sisters Veronica and Jess Pal, Maddie Hackett on drums, and guitarist Holly Knowles, and named after a favourite Mäneskin track. It took me some way into their set to really start to appreciate the musicality beneath the youthful energy. The closing sequence of ‘Fight’, ‘Burn’, and ‘Dead to Me’ really raised the bar and I will certainly be listening out to see how they mature and develop as the potential is clear.

Another 30-minute wait before Dirty Honey ripped onstage to ‘Can’t Find the Brakes’. I was immediately captivated by the LA quartet’s music and visual image. Sometimes sheer class is clear and with singer Mark LaBelle they showcase a frontman par excellence. Unfortunately, as the song came to a close, issues became apparent with guitarist John Notto’s setup. Attempts were made to get things working with the band waiting patiently but eventually, they had to leave the stage to allow time to sort the issues. They then returned to play the opening song again, which as a photographer in the pit meant an extra song and a damn good one at that but led to a big issue later on.

‘California Dreamin” and ‘Heartbreaker’ kept up the tempo and quickly had the crowd back in the palm of their hands. ‘Satisfied’, ‘Scars’ (with LaBelle playing cymbals on the drum kit), ‘Dirty Mind’, and ‘Tied Up’ careered on and showcased the superb songwriting and stage presence of the band. Bassist Justin Smolian and Notto then swapped to acoustic guitars for firstly ‘Coming Home (Ballad of the Shire)’, a wonderfully sung and performed ballad, and then a rip-roaring bluegrass style cover of ‘Honky Tonk Women’. 

‘Don’t Put Out the Fire’ took us back up to speed before a big issue arose as FOUR songs had to be cut from the setlist! After the initial wait for music and then a single support band, having to cut the setlist to make curfew seemed a real own goal. The truncated set went on to feature ‘The Wire’, ‘Another Last Time’ where LaBelle went to the barrier, a stunning solo from Notto to introduce ‘When I’m Gone’ and finally ‘Won’t Take Me Alive’ and ‘Rolling 7’s’.

I could certainly see why Dirty Honey are held in such high regard. They have all the necessary attributes of style, both musical and visual, catchy songs, and great musicianship, but on this occasion, I ended up slightly disappointed and wanting more.

Review and images – Rob Wilkins/Celtography

Remaining tour dates:

Thurs 22nd Feb 2023​​ Rockefeller, Oslo NORWAY

Fri 23rd Feb 2023​​ Stadsgarsterminalen, Stockholm SWEDEN

Sun 25th Feb 2023​​ Banha Ylioppilastalo, Helsinki FINLAND

Mon 26th Feb 2023 ​​Paavil Culture Factory, Tallinn ESTONIA

Wed 28th Feb 2023 ​​Hybrydy, Warsaw POLAND

Thurs 29th Feb 2023 ​​ColumbiaTeater, Berlin GERMANY

Fri 1st March 2023​​ Futurm, Prague CZECH REPUBLIC

Sun 3rd Feb 2023​​ Analog, Budapest HUNGARY

Mon 4th Feb 2023​​ Simm City, Vienna AUSTRIA

Tues 5th Feb 2023 ​​Backstage Halle, Munich GERMANY

Thurs 7th Feb 2023​​ Kofmehl, Solothurn SWITZERLAND

Fri 8th Feb 2023​​ Alcatraz, Milan ITALY

Sat 9th Feb 2023​​ Dynamo, Zurich SWITZERLAND

Mon 11th Feb 2023​​ Apollo 2, Barcelona SPAIN

Tues 12th Feb 2023​​ La Paqui, Madrid SPAIN

Wed 13th Feb 2023​​ Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao SPAIN

Fri 15th March 2023 ​​Machine Du Moulin Rouge, Paris FRANCE

For ticket information please see www.dirtyhoney.com

 

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