The Cadillac Three // Stephen Wilson Jnr. // Willy Cobb // The Years Go Fast Tour – Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast

The TC3 are back !!!

The lovely lads of The Cadillac Three are finally back in Belfast once again, these guys have been tearing it up far and wide for years now with their own brand of Southern Country Rock and goddam, do they know how to bring it to the live stage.

In tow, Stephen Wilson Jr. and once again back in. Belfast “wee” Willy Cobb who we caught last time just next door at the Limelight II, supporting “Foo Fighter” Chris Shifflet. By the time I arrive down the bands are still sound checking so the doors are not yet open, by the time they do it’s around 15 mins behind so the set in turn doesn’t kick off till around 7:15pm and when Willy takes the stage he has two familiar faces with him Jaren Johnston and Neil Mason of the TC3! I wonder how many people in the crowd clocked it as both have sunglasses on and hats. Willie must have left the band behind at the last bus stop as he did have them alongside him on Chris’ tour, but as there are two supports tonight his set is a little shorter and well if the TC3 guys are prepared to gig for half-scale why the hell not!

Williy as we stated before is like the bastard child of Kurt Cobain and  Steve Earle, a fusion somewhere of the two with his dark, emotive and melancholy songwriting, it cuts like a knife. He’s self-confessed as country as it gets! According to Willie as he spills all from the stage, Jaren can barely contain himself laughing … but looking up at him in his dungarees it’s hard to argue, you could see him rightly lying in the hay guitar in handwriting songs about “that” girlfriend ! His songs are gnarly, a wall of distorted guitar and screaming lyrics packed with angst, the drums pounding through the floor someone needs to give Willie a hug and soon! He’s an addictive character though and should come with a health warning! Lock up your daughters! But sure the craic is 90!

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Stephen Wilson Jr. takes the stage along with his lap steel guitarist / vocalist and charms Belfast to its core with his acoustic rock, vocal harmonies and psychedelic vibes. Dressed in a pair of Adidas, trousers, a cardigan and a baseball cap you wouldn’t know what to expect but Stephen can fairly rock that acoustic guitar, using a multitude of effects he fills the room with feedback, delays and the gnarly work of his fellow lapsteel guitarist has the room reverberating all whilst Stephen paces the stage like a caged animal! He tells of the story of the passing of his father playing “Fathers Son” and treats us to a Nirvana cover, covering every inch of that stage, pounding that acoustic guitar to within an inch if it’s life all for our pleasure.  He’s a unique musician with his own thing going on, well appreciated by the Belfast crowd and a great addition to the lineup alongside the new blood of Willie Cobb, the TC3 are bringing all that Southern Mojo with them on tour this time.




Another short break allows us time to catch our breath as the stage crew work hard and fast to set up for one of the finest trios out of the US of A!

Country music aficionados in Belfast rejoiced as the electrifying sound of The Cadillac Three finally returned to the stage of Limelight, marking a triumphant return after a significant absence. The Southern rockers, hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, brought their signature blend of country, rock, and blues back to the Northern Irish capital, delivering a night of soul-stirring melodies and foot-stomping rhythms.

The Cadillac Three comprises Jaren Johnston (vocals, guitar), Kelby Ray (bass guitar, steel guitar, vocals), and Neil Mason (drums, vocals). The trio has become synonymous with a raw, gritty sound that embodies the spirit of the American South. With influences ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd to The Black Crowes, their music transcends traditional genre boundaries, appealing to fans of rock, country, and everything in between but with the angst and attitude of Motorhead on steroids!

The band’s return to Belfast’s Limelight was met with fervent anticipation from fans who had been eagerly awaiting their live performance.  The venue filled with an eclectic mix of music enthusiasts, there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air, heightened by the knowledge that The Cadillac Three’s unique brand of musical magic was about to unfold on stage.

From the moment the band kicked off their set, it was clear that they were determined to make their comeback one to remember. Opening with the blistering guitar riffs of “Peace, Love & Dixie” they immediately commanded the audience’s attention, setting the tone for an unforgettable night of music. Now, as a photographer operating in the pit I know if you stand near a professional musician, you always wear protection! Not THAT protection! Ear-plugs, but regardless of that my ears are still ringing this morning! I blame Jaren’s multiple 4×12 Marshall’s melting my face in the pit! Goddam it was LOUD!!!

Throughout the evening, The Cadillac Three showcased their exceptional musicianship and infectious energy, effortlessly transitioning between heart-wrenching ballads and high-octane anthems. Tracks like “The South,” “White Lightning,” and “Bury Me In My Boots” had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs, while slower numbers like “Hank & Jesus” and “Tennessee Mojo” showcased the band’s versatility and emotional depth.

As the night drew to a close, The Cadillac Three left the stage to thunderous applause, having delivered a performance that exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. For fans in Belfast, it was a night to remember, a reminder of the bond between this band and their fans like no other, the TC3 Drinking Club would be proud of their boys, all this way from home bringing that Southern charm in spades. They haven’t changed one bit, as raw as the first time I laid eyes on them in The Empire Music Hall all those years ago, watching their stature grow over the years until Covid snatched so much out of the grasp of their fingertips. But they’re back, right here right now and they have just rocked the fuck out of Belfast!

As The Cadillac Three bid farewell to Belfast’s once again, it was clear that their long-awaited return had been more than worth the wait. With their infectious energy, genre-defying sound, and bad-ass attitude, they had once again proven why they are one of the most exciting bands in modern country music. And for the fans lucky enough to be in attendance, it was a night they would not soon forget.


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Photography: Mark McGrogan

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