Black Stone Cherry love the UK and clearly the UK loves Black Stone Cherry. Tonight marks the second night of the sold out UK Tour with Rival Sons, and Nottingham Rock City is in for a jumping night, judging by the huge snaking queue outside the venue with still hours to go before doors open.
One of Earache’s hottest properties and TINAS faves, Rival Sons, have the pleasure of opening proceedings, and with a venue heading towards capacity, and the surge to the stage barrier as they take the stage, it’s obvious they have more than their own fair share of fans in the throng tonight. On the day of the launch of their “Pressure and Time Redux” package it does take the Sons a track or so to get into full swing. However by the time the band launches into ‘Burn Down Los Angeles’ frontman Jay Buchanan is in his element. Feeding from the bouncing crowd, he has his retro swagger back, as his raw vocals cut through the mix. Flanked on each side by flat capped Robin Everhart and fluid six stringer Scott Holiday, the three of them feed off each other. Trading licks and mimicking, with Everhart bringing some huge funk into the low end whilst Holiday oozes jazz infused blues runs.
‘Gypsy Heart’ is a masterclass in retro groove, letting sticksman Mike Miley fully break loose behind his kit. ‘Sleepwalking’, ‘Pressure and Time’, and ‘Save Me’ are all done in a flash as Nottingham soaks up everything Rival Sons have to offer. Scott Holiday told us before the show that they were getting to play 45 minutes tonight rather than the half an hour they had the previous night, but it still wasn’t long enough. Rival Sons receive a response as raucous and welcoming as many a headliner we have seen at this venue… and rightly so.
Black Stone Cherry
The atmosphere is charged, and still with the remnants of ‘Save Me’ ringing through our brains, the Rock City crews have already cleared the stage and set up for Black Stone Cherry. Just enough time though for a visit to the bar before the lights go down and the banjo fires up for the “Ghost of Mississippi” intro music. More of a surge forward and we are up and running, any doubts for Chris Robertson’s voice are soon dispelled as the Kentucky rockers fire into “Change”. Much heavier than on the record, BSC really thrive on the live shows. Robertson isn’t going to let blowing his voice out six days earlier stand in the way of him and his UK fans!
This tour means everything to the Black Stone Cherry boys, and Robertson wants us to know it. Sold out over a month in advance he reminds us how grateful they are. He tells us BSC fans are the best in the world and treats us with respect. The banter with the crowd is spot on, none of the condescending “louder and better than who ever it was last night”, this is just heartfelt happiness and enjoyment. His voice may not be 100% but the band as a unit, the enthusiasm and energy more than make up for it.
Guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lohan bounce around the stage like hyperactive kids, grinning from ear to ear throughout, they switch from side to side of the stage providing peripheral entertainment to the centre piece of Robertson. They clamber over the monitors and bounce around the stage; Wells cat like in his prowess.
Musically it is thunderous, with such an impressive catalogue to pick from, each track raises the bar another notch. “Blind Man”, “In My Blood”, “Rain Wizard” and “Killing Floor” threaten to raise the roof, and at the very least get the Rock City foundations a good shaking. “White Trash Millionaire” has everyone in the room screaming along to be heard, bouncing, jostling, scrambling to get as close as possible to the bear-like figure of Robertson. Chief tub thumper John Fred gets his moment to show what he’s got with an impressive drum solo slot, whilst the rest of the band nip off stage …and return with bar stools an acoustic guitars.
“Acoustic Metal” is the genre Ben Wells wants to be responsible for as the guys continue the fun element and banter. Some acoustic shredding, a verse of “Champagne Supernova” and a touch of Nirvana’s “Rape Me” are all thrown in. To the Rock City sell out crowd, Black Stone Cherry can do no wrong. “Things My Father Said” brings a lump in the throat and a tear to the eye of 1900 people hooked on Robertson’s every word.
Wells and Robertson together are a comedy double act, the banter is non stop, as is the energetic atmosphere. Tonight Black Stone Cherry give us a set that delivers 17-odd songs with pure passion and fun. This is a band of ten years that are rising to the top. Touring with Alter Bridge, playing Download they just sweep up fans in their wake… Selling out a UK club tour will soon be a thing of the past for these boys, with performances like tonight… it’ll be arenas next.
Black Stone Cherry Setlist:
Such A Shame
Hell & High Water
In My Blood
Like I Roll
White Trash Millionaire
Champagne Supernova/Rape Me
Things My Father Said
Won’t Let Go
Blame It On The Boom-Boom
Peace is Free
Photos courtesy of Danny ‘Sambuca’ Ackerley