Billy Strings live at the Roundhouse

A brilliant young singer and guitarist, teamed with an extraordinary band created a sensational concert at The Roundhouse, London on a night that will be long remembered (15 November, 2023).

Billy Strings is idolised by his fans and the vast venue was packed with crowds who not only greeted him with a mighty roar as soon as he stepped on stage, but broke into cheers in the middle of his songs.

Such was the appreciation, and not just for his youthful appeal and stage persona but for the whole package of musical achievement. Billy and his band of brothers created some of the most awesomely hypnotic psychedelic effects experienced since the Doors and Jefferson Airplane played the Roundhouse back in September 1968.

That’s when you had to grovel in the grime of the former Victorian steam locomotive shed, the bar was a plank of wood and the loos were the stuff of nightmares. But now 55 years later, the venue has been vastly improved and offers facilities and comforts beyond the imaginings of us Sixties hippies.

You still have to stand amidst the crowds on ground level to hope to catch a glimpse of the artists in action. But by dint of pushing past the backpacks of modern day travellers, and ducking under the array of cowboy headgear, you could glimpse the boyish smile and flowing hair of Master Billy and see those fingers flying over the strings.

“This is Bluegrass,” explained the leader in his first spoken introduction following a tumultuous opening instrumental ‘Thirst Mutilator’. “I think this is what you came for…” More cheers and laughter. But this wasn’t Bluegrass as we know it.

Sure the double bass player Royal Masat kept up a pounding, pulsating two beat rhythm, and he had no need of a drummer man to crash and bash in the background. Yep, the mandolins, banjos and guitars sported by Billy and Jarrod Walker and the fiddle, played with bow bending fury by Alex Hargreaves ensured a faithful underpinning of country music power.

But what the hell and tarnation was happening NOW? The ceaseless flow of interactive playing by all four dudes began to evolve into – as Eddie Cochran once sang – somethin’ else. This was Bluegrass gone mad! Full-on psychedelic jams captivated our senses in a way not experienced since the freak out era.


Betwixt the instrumental firepower came the commanding voice of William singing songs that included ‘Running’ from his 2019 album Home with some astonishingly fast and dextrous banjo playing. One of my favourite tunes is ‘Away From The Mire’ but there was much more to enjoy from his award winning recorded output.

With so much string mastery on display, I wondered if Jimmy Page or Albert Lee might be in the audience waving their plectrums in salute. Chatting to audience members at the bar during the intermission I found myself punching fists with guys from Kentucky and a gal from Boston, all of who had travelled from the States to catch as many shows as possible during the band’s European tour.

That’s dedication. And I could see why. The overall effect was akin to seeing Elvis Presley live for the first time in 1956, or Jimi Hendrix in London in 1967. I had visions of Grateful Dead as well, and I was only drinking lager. All I can say is…welcome King Billy, long may you reign. And thank you America for bringing us truly inspirational music back home, once again.