06 December 2018
24th June 2007 Hyde Park London was the first time I accidentally saw Black Stone Cherry perform on the Pepsi stage at Hyde Park Calling festival under a huge tent to escape the horrendous weather. Along with no more than 100 other people, I witnessed a true rock band a long way from home but bursting with great songs and great enthusiasm.
Fast forward 11 years and that very same band of boys have now grown into a monster rock band of men. With a new studio album to promote (Family Tree) and another 5 studio albums before that the group certainly have some hard decisions to make on what to keep and what to drop in the ever expanding set list.
Opening up with “Burnin” to a mass of lights and high kicks from guitarist Ben Wells and a pumped up Jon Lawhon on bass swirling around and generally working the crowd up was a sight to see and talk about engrossing the crowd from the off with big smiles and appreciation. Without drawing breath guitarist/vocalist, Chris Robinson peels of the riff to crowd favourite “Me And Mary Jane” which is met with thunderous approval and some fine Welsh vocals were raising the roof.
With a fine sprinkling of older material such as “Rain Wizard” and newer tracks like “Bad Habit” keeping everyone on their toes Black Stone Cherry were certainly bringing a slice of Kentucky to Cardiff, with Chris Robinson taking centre stage with his magnificent hat and not so magnificent sunglasses. His voice is such a joy to hear as he captivates everyone with his vocals on “Things My Father Said” and puts many vocalists to shame with his voice box.
“I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” gives the group the space to spread their wings on this old Willie Dixon cover and stretching well past the 10 minute mark is a master class in blues improvisation with all four guys on stage watching each other to see where the next move is coming from. Such a stunning, moving, emotional rendition of this old classic was seriously worth the entrance fee alone and shows that the group are not a one trick pony.
“In My Blood”, “Blame It On The Boom Boom”, “White Trash Millionaire”, and “Lonely Train” just classic after classic being unleashed on the crowd who were just putty in their hands. Of course the man at the back, the engine of the group, John Fred Young, who delivers a drum solo of such hard hitting ferocity deserves special mention as along with Wells and Lawhon, he never stopped building the crowd up getting us all to clap along and enjoy ourselves for the duration of the gig. Main set closer was the title track from newest album “Family Tree” and once again with the new studio material sounding so fresh I can see this being in the live set for many a tour.
With heartfelt thanks and genuine emotion from Chris Robinson the band end the set with the acoustic “Peace Is Free” When the house lights go up and we all trundle out into the dismal weather to find a pub or a burger from takeaway alley I can’t imagine anyone feeling short changed or disappointed. When the likes of Maiden, Whitesnake, Leppard call time on their illustrious careers there’s only 2 or 3 groups capable at the moment to fill the huge void and on tonight’s evidence I have just witnessed one of those bands.