It was curiosity that led me to this gig as so far Black Stone Cherry are a band who have left me underwhelmed. I have only seen them live once before and that was a small acoustic session a couple of years ago but I thought it was about time I witnessed the band’s full live show to see what I was missing.
Anyway regardless of how good or bad BSC were we would get our money’s worth from the two able supports. First up were Theory Of A Deadman who have just released their fifth album entitled ‘Savages’ which is excellent. The band have taken a heavier course on this one and have even enlisted Alice Cooper to provide backing vocals on the title track.
The guys made the most of their 30 minute set mixing a couple of new tracks with old favourites such as ‘Low Life’ and ‘Hate My Life’ but for me the title track of the new album ‘Savages’ was the highlight of the set, very heavy with a driving drum pattern. TOAD are a bit of a mixture of accessible fun rock tunes but with a much heavier flipside, I know which I prefer and hopefully the new album is a step in the right direction.
Heavy, raucous, and frantic are all words you could use to describe Airbourne live. I have seen the band now on several occasions and they never fail to impress and entertain in equal measure. The guys don’t so much enter stage left as explode on to the stage.
Kicking off with the anthem ‘Get Ready To Rock’, Joel O’Keeffe had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the off. The fact that he later played ‘Scotland The Brave’ on guitar and drank half a bottle of Buckfast only served to cement the band’s relationship with the Glasgow crowd.
If you have seen Airbourne before you will know that Joel likes to get out and about in the crowd and tonight was no exception. Jumping on the shoulders of a waiting roadie he made his way from the stage to the mixing desk at the rear of the hall where he played away on the desk before being borne aloft to the stage once more without missing a note. It may have been done by others before but it is still entertaining.
All the showmanship would be no good without the music to back it up. The set list has altered little since the last UK jaunt but with big numbers like ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’, ‘Black Dog Barking’ and ‘Runnin’ Wild’ in the band’s arsenal they can’t fail but to hit the spot. There appears to be a mutual love between Airboune and the Glasgow punters who have always taken hard working and honest rock bands to their hearts and they don’t get much more honest than Airbourne.
Black Stone Cherry, as I said earlier, are a band who have yet to convince me of their musical honesty and integrity and after tonight’s performance my opinion remains the same. The fact that the band have moved into arenas (all be it a half full one tonight) on this tour intrigued me, perhaps I was missing something after all? So I felt it only fair that I went along and gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Kicking things off with ‘Rain Wizard’ I commented to my wife that they were heavier than expected until she pointed out that they were in fact only louder, not heavier. The band had taken their safe, middle of the road rock and turned it up to 11. My biggest bugbear with BSC is that their songs for me just aren’t that good either lyrically or musically. The guys play well enough but the content just isn’t there, I actually thought a few songs in that they were repeating ‘Blind Man’ when in fact it was another track which sounded almost the same.
Stage wise the band had upscaled the production for the arena but the stage appeared to dwarf the band and even with guitarist Ben Wells trying to cover all of the stage all of the time there was still a lot of empty space to play with. Still, with a few ramps, a couple of small risers at the front and a decent light show you could see they had made the effort.
Chris Robertson on vocals led the crowd in a singalong on ‘Me and Mary Jane’ which went down well and continued on ‘In My Blood’. ‘Things My Father Said’ provided another chance for the Glasgow choir to fill their lungs and sing along which they did much to the band’s delight. For me, however, I had seen enough by this point and headed for the car park.
Many may not agree with me, including some of my fellow scribes, but Black Stone Cherry just don’t do it for me either live or on record. I thought tonight they may have changed my opinions and I feel a fair hearing was given, but it was not to be.
Whether the band will prove themselves a genuine arena filling band only time will tell but I do wonder how many more seats tonight would have remained empty had the ticket prices been higher and had Airbourne not been on the bill?
Review and Photos by David Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 July.. In the first hour David pays tribute to the blues/rock guitarist Peter Green.
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