What was once a lovely stone and intimate venue in Nashville will now need severe renovations because Dirty Honey blew the roof off Marathon Music Works. Ok, that is a bit cliché, but seriously, they were phenomenal. When we saw Los Angeles’ Dirty Honey open for The Black Crowes last year, they were impressive. They have only gotten better and have fully embraced their rock star world.
The Young Guns Tour paired Dirty Honey with Mammoth WVH for a cross-country trek, but unfortunately, Mammoth had to skip this week of shows due to a COVID outbreak in their camp. Dirty Honey has been playing longer sets and the fans have been excited to spend more time with the Marc LaBelle (vocals), John Notto (guitars), Justin Smolian (bass), and Corey Coverstone (drums).
Nashville’s Naked Gypsy Queens opened the show and, to me, sounded like Sex Pistols and The Black Crowes merged and added in some Faster Pussycat. The hometown crowd was obviously fans as many donned band shirts and cheered throughout the set. The quartet released an EP in February titled “Georgiana” and I encourage you to check out their single “Down to the Devil.”
When it was Dirty Honey’s turn, they blasted right out with “California Dreamin’” and the crowd joined in the chorus as LaBelle held the mic out to fans. I spoke to several people who caught Dirty Honey last year on The Black Crowes’ Shake Your Money Maker Tour, had been totally impressed, and came to support the band for their headlining tour. This was made clear at the show more than once when the crowd sang choruses as loud as the band.
Marc LaBelle has embraced his front-man job and worked the stage as if he has been doing it for decades. More than once, I have seen a singer start out, sound really great, and then burn out within the year as they don’t know how to take care of their voice. LaBelle does not suffer from this flaw and his voice was strong though his screaming vocals or quieter, “regular” singing.
During “Heartbreaker,” the crowd’s singing filled the room and the band reveled in it. LaBelle said he was disappointed Mammoth could not be there but, “We get to play longer!” Each band member had a chance to show off their skills with solos and their cohesiveness was evident throughout the night.
After “The Wire,” LaBelle gave the audience a choice for next song and “Fire Away” had fans give a resounding yes. It was at this point that I noticed something very different at this show; the lack of phones. Yes, some people were taking videos and pictures, but from the back of the room, I barely saw any phone screens. The crowd was in the moment, enjoying the show, dancing and singing. I do not mean to sound like a Boomer with this comment, but I thought it was a testament to just how talented Dirty Honey is to get people focused on the music instead of their phones.
Through “Tied Up” and “Gypsy,” fans continued to sing along to the choruses and LaBelle said, “I know we can get your fucking hands in the air! There ain’t no crowd like a Dirty Honey crowd!”
At the end of 2021, Dirty Honey announced they had recorded a version of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic. Their performance of the song at this show was definitely impressive, but special props to guitarist John Notto’s incredible solo at the end. Honestly, it sound like Prince was performing it himself. “Another Last Time” found LaBelle sitting on the edge of the stage at fan level. In fact, he jumped into the crowd several times throughout the night and interacted with fans. He even opened his Instagram for a live video during their cover of AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill.” I also noticed LaBelle’s fashion sense was evident in the room as there were several lookalikes who donned hats like LaBelle’s.
As their set came to a close, LaBelle exclaimed, “It’s good to know rock and roll is alive in Tennessee! I feel bad for Wolfgang because he missed the best crowd in the whole tour!” Perhaps that is something bands always say no matter the city, but the electricity and excitement in the room did seem incredibly amped up. The guys closed out their show with the two songs that put them into our stratosphere: “When I’m Gone” and “Rollin’ 7s.” It was once again, another fantastic rock show from Dirty Honey.
Dirty Honey has a few more US dates, but will spend the summer in Europe. We hope Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth crew is feeling better and they will also head to Europe this summer.
If you want a real rock and roll show, you can’t go wrong with Dirty Honey!