LIVE REVIEW: Black Stone Cherry - Arena Birmingham - 11th December 2018
Black Stone Cherry have got a fantastic and long lasting relationship with Birmingham, with multiple visits across many venues and even a live DVD of their blistering NEC performance. So when a return to the city of Brum was announced, it was sure to be a sell-out.
Kicking off the night is a band I'm excited for. Monster Truck, a Canadian originated band, are a group I've seen multiple times now and each time they seem to be climbing the ladder and getting better, so to see them grab an opening slot for BSC is fantastic. For a 6.45PM slot as well, the crowd turned out well, giving a very sizeable reception as they strolled on stage. They blasted into their set with 'Long Live Rock and Roll, which in my eyes, is the only way to start a Monster Truck show. Each member was obviously putting their all into this set and both the sound and the show prove it. The music is tight and almost comparable to the albums and everyone on stage is headbanging, strutting their stuff and obviously having a great time. They round off with 'The Lion' and the room is buzzing with energy. For a 6.45 opening slot, Monster Truck smashed it.
Next up? The Cadillac Three. Strangely enough, a three piece band, based out of Tennessee. Grinning with a bottle of Gentleman Jack as they come onstage. They certainly set the tone for their set. With what feels like a cross between 'ZZ Top' and 'Buckcherry', a mix of bluegrass and rock. They start a little rigid, almost a step away from the crowd. But it didn't last long until the Birmingham charm must have seeped and the lead singer soon was leaning off the front of the stage and interacting well with the crowd. Musically it felt like it calmed down slightly from the initial Monster truck opening, but the band gave the crowd a noteable performance and put us in a suitable position for the main event. Up next? Black Stone Cherry.
Black Stone Cherry have always had the reputation of putting on a cracking live show and smashing their songs out of the park, which in turn has earnt them a huge fanbase. As the time rolls round for them to hit the stage, it becomes very obvious who this sell-out crowd is here to see. The rafters pack up and floods of BSC tops fill the standing floor. Three giant video screens at the rear of the stage light up with a short opening video of a girl discovering a 'golden' record and as she does, the band jump onto stage and open with 'Burnin' '.
From the get go, it's a stellar show. The musical tightness between all 4 members brings the sound to a level that is one of the reasons they've become arena sell-outs. With blistering solo work from both front man Chris and lead guitarist Ben, through the thundering bass of Jon and the ever headbanging John on drums. Speaking of the ever-animated drummer, it was let slip that the show was his Birthday, with Ben stating all John wanted was for the crowd to sing him 'Happy Birthday'. You could have heard it from the other side of town!
The setlist keeps piling on the songs, with sprinklings from everywhere across their timeline and even a few cover-moments! A couple of ever face-melting jams, one of which ends in Purple Haze, but the highlight for me comes from the insane cover of Hoochie Coochie Man. As you could guess from previous shows as well, the crowd knows every song and every lyric, belting out the hits alongside the band.
The band leave the stage after a jaw-dropping performance of 'Family Tree', but they came back on for 'Peace is Free' as their encore. With the whole crowd holding hands, it was a gorgeous moment and the perfect say to round off the night of insane music, great atmosphere and a full arena of love between one of the worlds best bands and their fans, old and new.
Photographs by Jack Kirby