Live Reviews

Dirty Honey – California Dreamin’ Tour 2023, Manchester & Nottingham: Live Review

 We are California Dreamin’ with Dirty Honey as the US rockers head to the U.K. on their first European headline tour, supported by HIMALAYAS.

dirty honey

It’s been an eventful journey for 70s rock-inspired Dirty Honey. Having been the first ever unsigned band to score a number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, the band has become a very hot prospect on the rock scene – supporting Kiss, Slash, Guns N Roses and Rival Sons – on the back of their eponymous debut EP and album.

Riding the crest of the classic rock revival wave, headed by Greta Van Fleet, it’s an exciting time for the blues-soaked, riff-heavy LA-based band, who somewhat unexpectedly (to me at least) have lost their drummer, Corey Coverstone, immediately before the tour but have found a more than capable replacement in the form of Jaydon Bean.

 I must confess that since listening to Dirty Honey – on the back of a convenient Instagram advert which thankfully caught my attention – I have become pretty obsessed. Their blues rock songs and sounds are a direct descendant of the likes of Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin but provide another breath of fresh air into what a few years ago may have been seen by plenty as an exhausted genre; though there are definitely one or two cliches, which is certainly no bad thing in my opinion. 

 It isn’t just me who loves Dirty Honey though, my daughter, Alice – aged 8 – is a huge fan, and came along to what was her first concert; she was even fortunate enough to meet and get autographs from all members of HIMALAYAS and Dirty Honey. During the show Justin Smolian and John Notto of Dirty Honey spotted her riding the rail at the front and made a special effort to gift her customised keepsake bass and guitar plectrums; the latter emblazoned with #John******Notto. Rock and Roll.

 Before my write-up of the Nottingham concert, I’m handing the pen to Alice to provide her wholesome review of the Manchester date.

Manchester Club Academy 30th January 2023 (by Alice Boon, aged 8)

This was my first concert, but I enjoy lots of other music too. These acts include: Fozzy; Queen; Motley Crue; Imagine Dragons; Lady Gaga; Ariana Grande and lots of other rock and pop artists. I have been listening to Dirty Honey since June 2022 and listen to them a lot – the album and EP in the car, and at home on vinyl record. And I watch their music videos and concerts on YouTube .

 I like Dirty Honey because Heavy Rock is my favourite type of music and I think they sound like Guns ‘n Roses. I do not have a favourite band member because I love them all!

 Before we went into the concert, we were just standing around and then my dad noticed a man and said “Marc?” – because he looked so different in normal clothes – and it was the lead singer Marc Labelle! Then I got to meet the lead singer of the band and got a picture and autograph all before the actual concert!

 I loved the support act, HIMALAYAS – they were amazing! Dirty Honey started with Gypsy which both me and Dad love! It was so great because it was very energetic and fun. I was rocking out so hard I felt dizzy! The band were also very loud even through my ear defenders, which I lifted up to hear how loud it actually was. I think they sound amazing – and they actually don’t need autotune, because the singer is soooo good!I think they looked like rockstars, because they definitely are rockstars! Their outfits included: a fluffy cardigan; thick – and sick – sunglasses; Cowboy hats; unbuttoned shirts and leather pants.

 My favourite song is Heartbreaker, but at the concert, it was California Dreamin’ because I think it was the most active and energetic, and everyone sang along.

 After the concert, I felt like a celebrity because everyone was crowding around me to give me high fives, so that was fun, and I went to buy HIMALAYAS merch and not only did I get a signed bag I also got a signed setlist! Then when I went outside, I got a picture with the other members of Dirty Honey! I also got two of the bands’ plectrums, which my dad mentioned, which was my favourite part of the concert.

The Bodega, Nottingham 28th January 2023

A 250-capacity sized venue is the ideal place to see a band like Dirty Honey. And the band make sure that everyone in attendance knows that they have just watched an outstanding band deliver a historic show.

 Support is again provided by the up and coming HIMALAYAS, whose debut album is due for release in May. The band make the most of the incredibly tight space on stage – at that point housing two drum kits – which means less room for theatrics, instead letting the music do all the talking. The band work through a set which includes, Thank God I’m Not You (which singer Joe Williams takes great pride in telling us that the song has over 34million Spotify streams) and From Hell to Here, the name of their forthcoming album.

 After a short interval, John Notto, Justin Smolian and Jaydon Bean take to the stage, and launch straight into regular show opener Gypsy, as they are joined by a swaggering Marc Labelle, whose vocals match (and in many cases exceed) many of his peers and idols.

 The band work through their tried and tested material from their debut EP and album, which they have now truly mastered, whilst including covers of Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy and Aerosmith’s Last Child; the latter act clearly having had an enormous influence on Labelle and the band.

 With a reduced stage space, there is less opportunity for movement for the band than what they are probably now used to. But Labelle refuses to be constrained as he climbs atop of the speaker – probably ten feet above the audience – for the band’s signature song, California Dreamin’ and struts across the bar during show closer Rollin’ 7’s – which is usually an encore, but there’s no leaving and returning to the stage tonight – whilst Notto rolls out his party trick of playing the lead break with his guitar behind his head.

After a blistering set, followed by a quick curtain call, the band disappear; though it isn’t long before the instrument-playing members of the band can be found chatting to audience members and propping up the bar in the Bodega. 

Once the U.K. dates are over the band are on to the rest of Europe. Hopefully, they will be soon returning to the studio to record album number two. There are hints that fresh material is on the way, with new song Ride On getting an airing at all dates so far. So, will the band face the dreaded second album syndrome? If previous songwriting, Labelle’s vocals and the bands playing so far is anything to go by, it’s very unlikely. It’s also unlikely that we will be seeing them in venues of this size again because this band is special. And their talent may just take them all the way.

 We’ll see you on down the road.


          1. Gypsy

          2. Break You

          3. Heartbreaker

          4. The Wire

          5. Scars

          6. Tied Up

          7. Last Child (Aerosmith cover)

          8. No Warning

          9. Down the Road

          10. Ride On

          11. Let’s Go Crazy (Prince cover)

          12. California Dreamin’

          13. Another Last Time

          14. When I’m Gone

Encore (part of main show at Nottingham):

15. Rolling 7s

Dirty Honey online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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