By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Florida–February 9, 2019–The Magpie Salute’s “Winter 2019 Tour”
Rock At Night has been following The Magpie Salute since their formation in 2016—and last covered their gig at Jannus Live in 2017. The band just released album High Water I in August 2018 and will be releasing High Water II later in the year. Coming from a fan of blues-rock and the Black Crowes, High Water I is a near perfect blend of high-quality, well-written songs from a group of very seasoned musicians. Lead singer John Hogg has the perfect voice for the genre with his Steve Marriott-ish delivery. Rich Robinson’s slide guitar and back-up from former Crowes Marc Ford and bassist Sven Pipien provides a solid groove.
The six-piece band, The Magpie Salute, sans the female back-up singers this time around, rolled into the Capitol Theatre, Clearwater, Florida, on February 9th. The band toured heavily in the UK and Europe all Fall in 2018, is winding down its Winter Tour of the U.S., and will be embarking on the Rock Legends Cruise VII on Valentine’s Day.
There was no warm-up band the night of concert—just pure The Magpie Salute, delivering hard rock and blues rock music with no bells and whistles. These guys are real musicians of the highest caliber and do not require leaps and vogueing on stage because their music “speaks for itself”. Lead singer John Hogg spoke to the audience between song takes, and imbued warmth and charm, especially with his slight Cockney inflections.
The venue was possibly three-quarters full that evening, and I figured that most of the patrons were fans of Black Crowes, however, the audience stood enthusiastically, and loudly applauded after each song. The audience was truly appreciative and energetic, welcoming song after song.
The set list included covers of Black Crowes and an impressively delivered rendition of “Laila II”, with Allmanesque dual-guitars of Marc Ford and Rich Robinson and impressive key solos delivered by Matt Slocum. During the middle of the concert, Marc Ford, Rich Robinson, and John Hogg, played acoustic guitars and performed stirring harmonies on The Flying Burrito Brother’s “Christine’s Tune”.
Hogg delivered an emotional and heartfelt performance of “You Found Me”, one of the ballads from High Water I. Again, he sounded very Marriot-ish when singing “Rollin’ Over” from the classic Small Face’s Ogen’s Nut Gone Flake album and Hookah Brown’s “Omission.”
During the evening, my personal favorite songs were those penned by The Magpie Salute. “Walk On Water” had a Tom Petty-ish feel with its harmonies and “For the Wind” and “High Water” were really hard rocking. Possibly my favorite tune of the evening was the last song (no encore, as the band announced), “Send Me an Omen”.
The Magpie Salute never disappoints, unless one attends thinking it is Black Crowes reincarnate. The band’s music stands on its own, and will likely garner the respect it deserves, as fans become more familiar with their music. The musicians are solid, the sound is full, and the concerts are delivered with a true classic rock feel.