Gig Review: Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at the Empire

By Tyler McNally

In the Empire’s decadently adorned music hall glasses were dropped, drinks spilled and moves busted as Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band played their first ever Belfast gig (supported by rock three-piece The Hard Chargers). The gig attracted people of all ages, drawn as they were to an act which infamously left fans “fearing for their own lives, they are that good!”

The Hard Chargers warmed up the crowd with some songs from their latest EP “Bumpin’ and Grindin’” which had everyone in the audience rocking in their own way. But no warm up could prepare the audience for the Maelstrom that was the main act.

The three piece country blues band, hailing from Bean Blossom in Indiana, roared onto the stage in a hail of drums, washboard and guitar play – the witty compeering was an added bonus, and it captivated the crowd.  The performance felt intimate as the big Rev. Peyton engaged the audience with witty remarks and short stories behind the album″>Between the Ditches (released in August 2012).

If everyone wasn’t dancing at the start of the set, it certainly wasn’t long before they were with songs like “Clap Your Hands” getting everyone stomping and clapping as if they were in a real barn dance in America’s South. The combination of true-to-roots country blues and the personality of the band ensure the crowd feel the stories in the lyrics, and can dance to the rhythms of the instruments.  Special mention must go to the Reverend’s thumb, the infamous bass player in the band.  Rev. Peyton’s thumb plays bass, while his fingers play melody. Peyton’s mid-set rendition of a 1950’s TV Theme left the crowd spellbound. I even heard a person in the audience declare that “the thumb is talented.”

I must confess that before the gig, I had never heard of the Big Damn Band and its charismatic lead the Reverend Peyton. But I must admit that the band didn’t take long to make me a believer. It’s little wonder that the Empire didn’t collapse from all the dancing, at one stage the floor felt like trampoline as the crowd let loose and danced to songs like “Something for Nothing” and of course “Mama’s Fried Potatoes.” I can only hope that the band makes a hasty return to Belfast so I can catch my next dose of Indiana Country Blues.