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  • Chris Farlie

The Long Road Festival: Interstate Stage - Kezia Gill

For Kezia Gill this was to be her third trip to Long Road, however her first appearance on the poster, having previously played as part of BBC Introducing on the Front Porch Stage and as Marty Stuart's guest just 12 months earlier on the Rhinestone Stage. Kezia's current up escalator momentum shows no sign of slowing, the venues on her next tour are her biggest yet and already a number are preparing to place SOLD OUT across their names on the tour poster. Seemingly on the cusp of leaping into the mainstream, she even now has her own tribute band "Whiskey Over Ice" who made themselves known to #TEAMw21 at the festival.

Today she was asked to follow on from the awesome experience that was The War & The Treaty, with nearly half the Interstate tent seeming to converge on their small merchandise table just to share a few moments in their presence. Soon however, numbers in front of the Interstate stage started to swell, a conspicuously large number of whom were sporting their "Friday Night Crew" hoodies.

A big drum beat announced the commencement of the set and within seconds Kezia had bounced on to the stage to sing the title track of her new album "Misfit". Her outfit was perfect for the occasion, sparkling and throwing out reflections as it caught the lights each time she moved. Luke Thomas on guitar would stroll to the front of the stage for a short yet loud solo however it was Kezia who would steal the show. Having only seen her relatively recently at The Water Rats, it was amazing to see the growth in confidence oozing from the band, having played a number of large festivals already this year.

Kezia would don her acoustic guitar for "Country Song" which she would play at times leaning back while holding it out way in front of her. This had the whole tent clapping, not far off Queen's "Radio Gaga" video and the song would end with some true stage craft, Kezia holding her guitar high in the air before dropping it to signal the end of the song. One of the big singles from the album, "Whiskey Over Ice" saw Kezia providing some trademark power vocals while Luke and about half of the Interstate tent followed up on backing vocals. It was followed by a storming "House On The Hill" with the drum beat alone driving the song forward at a furious pace.

With such a short time slot there was really little time for pleasantries however there was a moment to tell how her Mum had inspired "Dead Ends & Detours" which opened to just Kezia and her guitar before the band would later kick in. It would close with Kezia emphasising the "I'll find my way" line. There would be more evidence of stage confidence as Kezia would take the microphone from its stand and deliver an a capella first few lines of the Janice Joplin classic "Mercedes Benz" before then letting the audience finish the first verse.

Gradually the walking bass entered the fray, then drums before finally pedal steel and electric guitars joined in - by the finish it seemed that Kezia could also hold her own revivalist meeting such was the fervour on show.

If there was one song that #TEAMw21 thought had the potential to split the Kezia audience it was "Smokey" - it is loud and scuzzy, Luke Thomas would summon up his inner Jimmy Page while Kezia would throw her head forward in a headbanging motion with her ginger tresses following on seconds behind. Far from dividing the audience they absolutely loved it - it even had its own enormous poster and at least one stuffed dog would be raised in the air from the crowd in tribute each time the "dog by his side" was mentioned!

Although as stated earlier there was little room for chat in such a short set it did not stop Kezia from throwing out birthday dedications to her fan base and with "Thirties", unrequested, they once again provided their own singalong, a quick glance back over our shoulder showed the Interstate Stage tent to be a blur of dancing bodies of people just having a good time.

Whisked off by buggy on completion of her set for an appearance on the Rhinestone Stage with Breland, life really could not get much better than it is for Kezia Gill at the moment.

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