Black Country Communion Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 18, 2011    
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Black Country Communion - Civic Hall, Wolverhampton (UK) - December, 29th 2010.

Now, individually I'm a fan of all the members of BCC to varying degrees, in fact you can shoot me now because Joe Bonamassa is by far my least favourite of these four musicians. The term "supergroup" fills me with dread as expectation is usually greater than what the sum of the parts deliver, in fact two years down the line I couldn't name you a single song from the Chickenfoot album even though I'm sure it's entertaining to watch them play. I liked the parts of the BCC album that didn't veer off into extended jams but on the whole I think it's a bit overrated, but like Chickenfoot I expected them to be a great live spectacle. I wasn't wrong!

First though we enter a packed Wolves Civic quite early to find respected blues-rock artist Joanne Shaw Taylor already on stage and strutting her stuff. She may have just a bass player and drummer for company but apart from looking impossibly small on the big stage, she filled every nook and cranny of the venue with her impassioned vocal and fiery lead work. To be honest she's not someone I would consider buying an album by but songs like 'Dead And Gone', 'Jump That Train' and 'Lord Have Mercy' certainly built up a little bit of atmosphere before the main event.

Coming on to an intro tape of 'Ride Of The Valkyries', it strikes me that if the spacious Civic isn't sold out then there can't be many spaces to be had, with more and more people pushing their way in from the side bars during the inevitable opener 'Black Country'. In the crush it certainly isn't the best view but the sound is spot on and the crowd go wild when Glenn Hughes belts out the main refrain. The catchy 'One Last Soul' follows and the band visibly start to relax as Hughes looks at Bonamassa and points at his home crowd as if to say "See, I told you so!"

With Jason Bonham pounding his kit in a style I've never seen him play before and keyboard player Derek Sherinian sticking to just the Hammond sound, the likes of 'Beggarman' and 'Down Again' have Hughes coming into his own, not just as a phenomenal singer who physically shouldn't be able to hit those notes at his age, but also as the underrated monster bass player he's always been. Joe Bonamassa is a decent singer too and a total foil to Hughes' histrionics, with a much smoother tone on his vocal tracks 'The Revolution In Me' and 'Song For Yesterday'. 'Too Late For The Sun' is interesting as not only do Hughes and Bonamassa share lead vocals, but it's also the first time Sherinian gets to step out from under the shadow of the power trio to prove he's a fantastic musician too.

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The run of BCC originals is broken for the first time by Bonamassa's 'The Ballad Of John Henry', which actually kicks more ass than I'm sure it ever has before with Joe's equipment on settings that have never been used in his solo shows. 'The Great Divide' is followed by new arrangement of Hughes' seminal 'Medusa' from his Trapeze days, which of course he originally played with Jason's dad, the late, great John Bonham, and he relates the story in his introduction. Also in homage to Bonham is a version of Zeppelin's 'No Quarter', which apart from the novelty of featuring Derek Sherinian on a lead instrument was actually pretty ropey. I was praying that Glenn wouldn't resort to screaming on this one, but he did. 

The high energy rocker 'Sista Jane' ended the set with another neat dual vocal and cleverly morphed back into 'Black Country' again so the crowd could go wild again every time Hughes paid homage to the area he and Bonham grew up in. A raucous version of 'Burn' (what else?) was the sole encore and the crowd reaction was phenomenal, so for their first ever full gig it was pretty amazing actually. The band have promised plenty more music where that came from, so if their great start continues and takes them somewhere special then the three thousand of us who were there can say we were at their first ever full performance. If they're this good after one show it's seriously frightening what they could become.

Phil Ashcroft


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