Black Stone Cherry
31 October 2007
London Astoria

Due to Johan not having a photopass, I was supposed to be having a night off at this gig, but since I enjoyed it so much and took some photos on my compact camera from the crowd, I have decided to post a review.

Originally booked for the smaller Astoria 2, keen ticket sales for Black Stone Cherry’s first headline show in London had warranted a move up to the main Astoria. On the night, the larger venue seemed pretty close to sold out and those gathered greeted back to back renditions of Rain Wizard and Backwoods Gold enthusiastically as the band hit the stage with gusto.

Frontman Chris Robertson welcomed the crowd with, “Happy Halloween London!”. Aside from Robertson’s Frankenstein t-shirt, the band hadn’t dressed up for the occasion, but spiders webs covered their amps with lit pumpkins resting on top.

Next up was a song destined for Black Stone Cherry’s sophomore release. Yeah Man was a catchy boogie with lush Thin Lizzy style guitar harmonies in the later half of the song. Throughout the evening, the energy and passion the band put into the performance never let up and this was reflected in the crowd response. The same was true for this new song, which was greeted like an old friend.

For such a young band, no member being over 23, Black Stone Cherry exude and amazing level of confidence. Roberston had the crowd in his palm as he ordered the lights turned on us, then got exactly his desired response when we told us to “Follow along with Brother Ben (Wells – bass)”, for some synchronised clapping to Rollin’ On.

This was a crowd well and truly won over and as he tried to introduce Big City Lights, he was interrupted by a spontaneous chant of “Black-Stone-Cherry”. Humbly thanking the crowd, Robertson explained the gig was being recorded by Concert Live and that when the results go onto CD, “We’re all Black Stone Cherry”.

With only one album to date, it’s a surprise that Black Stone Cherry manage to play for 90 minutes whilst omitting three songs from it. However, the band added some deviations, which worked to add variety to the set. The first of these is a trip to country music, with a cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Getting the crowd onside with a round of “Yeah” sing-backs, the first half of the song is pretty faithful, with an added hard rocking kick to the remainder. It went down a storm and Robertson told us we were the “Loudest, biggest and most kick ass crowd” they’d played to on this tour.

Crosstown Woman was dedicated to “All the good girls who know how to be bad”, before guitarist Wells asked how may of us were blues fans. We were treated to some “Southern Mississippi Blues”, with an amalgamation of Muddy Waters’ Mannish Boy and Hoochie Coochie Man. Mid way in, it was time for John Fred Young to take centre stage, though he was a constant source of entertainment throughout the night. Laying into his kit like Animal from The Muppets, he was a mass of curled hair and flailing limbs, throwing his drums sticks high into the air. For the second half of his solo, he dispensed with the sticks completely, attacking his kit with his bare hands.

Lonely Train was an obvious fan favourite and a mosh broke out as the verse kicked in. This show started at pace, and the momentum had continued throughout. Robertson took on the persona of a preacher, with a sermon instructing the crowd to jump to Shooting Star. Obviously touched by the reaction tonight, he explained that the band is from a town of 1,600 and they never imagined more people would show up in London than at a home state show. This is in fact Black Stone Cherry’s biggest headline show to date, but it’s clear that they’re destined to surpass this.

Maybe Someday led us to guitar solos from first Ben Wells, then Robertson, before a cover of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) rounds off the set, with both guitarists and bassist playing their instruments behind their heads. Ten minutes after the band took their final bow, the crowd was able to walk away with an excellent memento of a live recording of the whole show courtesy of Concert Live.

Black Stone Cherry set list:
Rain Wizard / Backwoods Gold / Yeah Man / Rollin’ On / Violator Girl / Big City Lights / Hell Or High Water / Shapes Of Things / Folsom Prison Blues / Crosstown Woman / Mannish Boy - Hoochie Coochie Man (including drum solo) / Lonely Train / Shooting Star / Maybe Someday / Guitar solos / Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Black Stone Cherry
Concert Live