Hootie & the Blowfish @ O2 Academy Birmingham, 16 October 2019

This show was the last date in the band’s long-awaited Group Therapy tour so it was bound to be a big one for Hootie & the Blowfish. The show lasted nearly two hours during which time there were classics, covers and new material.

Visually there was an array of lights in different shapes and colours, but with a band of seven and mesmerising performers like singer Darius Rucker and lead guitarist Mark Bryan, there was little else required. Each member was interesting to watch and there was a feeling that they were both enjoying themselves and working as a team. Having seven on the stage made for a beefy sound and a broad variety of musical talent. Of particular note was the quality of the harmonies and backing vocals.

There were a fair few covers worked into the set including ‘Losing My Religion’ by REM, Hootie’s favourite band, ‘Hey Hey What Can I do’ by Led Zeppelin and ‘I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You’ by Tom Waits. A slightly stranger choice for the band during the encore was ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis. I’m not sure where that came from…

Of course, there were also fan favourites including ‘Time’, ‘Let Her Cry’ and ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’. All these come from the band’s 21-time platinum album ‘Cracked Rear View’ from 1994.

Aside from the classics, the standout moments came when the band played tunes with a country twang like ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken/Desert Mountain Showdown’ and ‘Wagonwheel’. This isn’t surprising since singer Darius Rucker released several country albums during the band’s hiatus of over 10 years, but these songs gave the rest of the band a chance to do something different as well. Many of the musicians are multi-talented and moved round from banjo to percussion and then on to the mandolin. Both these songs featured violin solos and ‘Will the Circle’ had a nice acapella moment.

During the night there were a few tasters from the band’s new album including ‘Miss California’, which was co-written by David Ryan Harris, and ‘Rollin’. Both showed promise and should get fans onto the pre-order list, though how well they might do in the current top 40 is debatable.

Darius and Mark took turns to chat with the crowd but the best story came from Darius who explained that he hadn’t originally wanted drummer Jim Sonefeld to join the band and had “hated” him because Jim stole his girlfriend in college. However, when Jim arrived at his audition with the song ‘Hold My Hand’ up his sleeve, there was little doubt he had to be hired. A pretty good decision since it’s one of their biggest hits.

The other thing about Darius and Mark is that neither seem to have aged much over the last 30 years. Life as a musician obviously suits them.

Following the end of the main set the band returned for a four-song encore which started with ‘Goodbye’ comprising of just vocal and piano. This was no doubt the most soulful moment of the night. The encore also featured ‘Go and Tell Him’ which was a real crowd pleaser.

The band’s new album ‘Imperfect Circle’ will be released on 1 November and is available to pre-order now.


  1. Hannah Jane
  2. State Your Peace
  3. I Go Blind (54-40 cover)
  4. Sad Caper
  5. Not Even the Trees
  6. Hold My Hand
  7. Rollin’
  8. Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover)
  9. I Will Wait
  10. Let Her Cry
  11. Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zeppelin cover)
  12. Will the Circle Be Unbroken? / Desert Mountain Showdown
  13. I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love With You (Tom Waits cover)
  14. Alright
  15. Running From an Angel
  16. Miss California
  17. Time
  18. Wagon Wheel
  19. Old Man & Me/Fight the Power/Freaks of the Industry/Shining Star


  1. Goodbye
  2. Go and Tell Him (Soup Song)
  3. Champagne Supernova (Oasis cover)
  4. Only Wanna Be With You/Get Down on It

Review: Chrissie Duxson
Photos: Andra Tudoran

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *