Black Stone Cherry at The Academy – Review
Black Stone Cherry is a southern fried American hard rock band from Kentucky, who play a mix of southern rock and heavy metal, with a sound that suggests Lynyrd Skynyrd crossed with Black Sabbath.
Consisting of Chris Robertson (lead vocals, lead guitar), Ben Wells (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Jon Lawhon (bass guitar, backing vocals), and John Fred Young (drums, backing vocals), they have been kicking around since 2006 with four albums already in the can. These guys are out to prove Gene Simmons wrong in his recent assertion that rock is dead…not if these guys have anything to do with it!
Curiously enough, the (sold out) Academy seems to be quite a small venue for these guys considering they are playing the Arena circuit around the rest of Europe. This is a band whose every song seems to be a rock anthem…right from the opening number, Rain Wizard, they were encouraging the crowd to singalong with them and practically every song from then on had an audience participation part to it. The audience were in fantastic voice and knew the words to every song, which put an obvious smile on the band members faces. There’s a real high tempo feel to this show and a lot of energy generated on the stage. This, in turn, translates well into the crowd who feed off the energy and fire it back at the band. Ben Wells on guitar and Jon Lawhon on bass are constantly swapping sides, headbanging and exhorting the crowd to sing and it makes for a very energetic experience for band and audience. Guitarist, Wells, pointed out that Ireland had not been included on their tour itinerary and that it was only because of the fans demands through facebook that they had asked their promoter to include Ireland in their schedule. The band pulled a good mixture of songs from their back catalogue with notable highlights being ‘Me and Mary Jane’, ‘Like I Roll’, and ‘Such A Shame’.
The sound was somewhat muddy for the band, unusual for the Academy, where the sound is usually pristine, but a minor complaint. The one thing I wouldn’t miss from the set though, was the drum solo. Surely they’ve been consigned to the dustbins of history. Is there really anyone out there anymore (apart from drummers) who want to hear part of the set devoted to a drum solo? Fortunately the set kicked back into top gear with a couple of belters, ‘Hollywood In Kentucky, White Trash Millionaire’, and another huge singalong to their most well known song, ‘Blame It on the Boom Boom’. Robertson thanked the crowd for giving them the opportunity to do what they love for a living and for keeping live rock n roll music a going force…it’s because of bands like these that live rock music is still a much loved form of entertainment. ‘Lonely Train’ rounded out the set before Robertson and Wells came back for an encore of ‘Peace is Free’ during which Wells guitar let him down…once again the audience stepped into the breach to fill the void and rounded out a great evenings entertainment.
Review by Tony Martin