CONCERT REVIEW : Zach Bryan Rocks Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket: A Night to Remember! 22nd April 2023

For many, the introduction to Zach Bryan was in 2019, watching viral videos of Bryan strumming his guitar out in the open air. For those listeners who do not know Zach Bryan’s name yet, they will. He is a 25-year-old country singer from Oologah, Oklahoma. Zach has released three albums, DeANN, Elisabeth, and Quiet, Heavy Dreams, with his first studio album on the way Mar. 25.

Zach Bryan’s raspy yet smooth voice is going to be the sound of country music in years to come. His first album DeAnn expresses raw emotion, vulnerability, and gentleness. The listener can feel the heft of his music and it touches your soul like quiet warmth. In Zach’s lyrics, the listener finds refuge and clarity. Zach Bryan relates to the listener like a father to his son in his debut album.

In Bryan’s second album Elisabeth this same feeling is amplified. Bryan shows growth as an artist in his second album leaning more towards folk-country and a more upbeat album as a whole. This album brings you straight to the deep South with a new updated sound that brings so much more to the table as an artist. What stands out about the young star is his ability to grow and evolve as an artist like a caterpillar into a butterfly. Bryan again comes back with his raw raspy vocals that possess so much emotion that gives the listener pure delight in his words.

In 2020 Zach released his third EP, Quiet, Heavy Dreams. This album leans much toward the slow, soothing folk country much like Elisabeth, but much more slow. In this album, the emotion is authentic and raunchy, but in a good way.

This album brings the listener to a forgotten secluded place in the country, long gone now but what used to host nature and calm… before industrialisation and technology. That is what Zach Bryan’s music does: it brings the listener to places just with words.

Zach Bryan is to release his fourth album and his first studio album American Heartbreak at the end of this month. The best is yet to come for the young star, music is now taking the front seat and he will get his first opportunity to record in an actual studio. For the past seven years, Zach has been an active duty member of the United States Navy with music being more of a hobby and taking the backseat in his short career. Zach has released a single “From Austin” which is all we have of this new album. In the single Zach sounds less raspy and this song is noticeably done in a studio and is very different from his past music. This song seems less authentic and more like he is trying to fit in with the rest of the pack (the pack being other country artists) instead of going off on his own and making his own path as he did in his first three albums. But still many are still very excited to listen to the much anticipated new album.

Zach Bryan’s career is one that is highly anticipated as he grows as an artist and one that has a growing following. Zach’s music can be found on any music streaming platform with a subscription or for free on YouTube anytime, any place.

But first, it was the support for the whole tour Oscar Corney, an independent singer-songwriter from Cambridge. Drawing from a wide range of influences from country to indie, pop and rock which has all comes together in a songwriting style that showcases his unique voice. Tonight we are treated to a set of brilliantly crafted indie pop songs, performed to perfection, think Sam Fender, Only The Poets and you are on the right track.

The moment has arrived and the band take to the stage, Zach looks out at the face’s in front of him and this this amazing setting “Alright Glasgow it’s an honour to be here, thank you for coming out”, A sea of mobile phones and cameras light up…“Open the gate”, starts and the crowd are already singing word for word.

“Here’s a song called ‘Godspeed”, announces Zach…The crowd roared and they never stopped roaring and dancing and singing every single word. He continued with’Deep Satin’, ‘Quitting Time’, ‘Highway Boys’. The Spirit of the Highway Boys was moving through the crowd, and Reverend Zach Bryan was sucking them in.

‘Something in the Orange’, was a particular fan favourite as the crowd sang along with him “If you leave today, I’ll just stare at the way, the orange touches all things around. The grass, trees and dew, oh how I just hate you. Please turn those headlights around”. It is followed by a harmonica solo. “To you, I’m just a man, to me you’re all I am. Where the hell am I supposed to go? I poisoned myself again. Something in the orange tells me you’re never coming home”.

When a man fresh out of an eight-year stint in the military sings about missing his girl, loving his mama or wanting to cut loose on a Saturday night, it just hits a little harder. It also helps that Bryan showed a knack for clever but not cutesy wordplay and phrase-twisting, part John Prine and Garth Brooks.

For example: using “the wrong side of pity” as a rhyming lyric in “Oklahoma City,” one of the night’s most personal and heart-wrenching tunes — and one of many to prominently feature his invaluable fiddle player Lucas Ruge-Jones. In “’68 Fastback,” a seemingly predictable and rowdy “car song,” he supplanted his beat-up heart for an old hot rod, begging his driver, “Use me for parts / Drive me, and then gut me.”

I feel that we are witnessing something very special here, as we head into the penultimate song, “Heavy Eyes”, Bryan is fully orchestrating the crowd, and they are playing their part, the last song of the set is ‘Burn, Burn, Burn’, is excellent, with an opening line of lyrics that brings out a raw and raucous crowd, ‘Everyone seems a damn genius lately, Tik -Tok talking, Late night TV, and there’s still so much I have yet to know’. The cameras are still aloft the voices in full song, and the set finishes, the crowd are begging for one more song (wan mair choon, wan mair choon)….

After what seemed like a ten-minute break, more like three, the band start returning to the stage, Bryan has already started playing the introduction to, Revival, as he enters the stage walks to the front the band all lined up at the back singing along, as Bryan builds the crowd up the bands come in with their instruments and the final few minutes of shear excellence and bliss is played out, this was a set of epic proportions. One I am happy to of been a part of, one that will have me in years to come.

Set List:

Open the Gate, God speed, Deep Satin, Quitting Time, Highway Boys, Fifth Of May, Heading South, The Good It’ll Do, Dawns, Something In The Orange, Tashomingo, Oklahoma City, She’s Alright, 68 Fastback, Heavy Eyes, Burn, Revival

Review and Photographs by Stuart Stott

Author: Stuart Stott

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