Concert Reviews

Black Stone Cherry / Rival Sons Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 29, 2012    
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Black Stone Cherry / Rival Sons - Academy, Liverpool (UK) - 15th March 2012

There has been a buzz surrounding Black Stone Cherry since their debut album back in 2006. I thought it was OK, in a Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Black Sabbath kinda way, but it was 2008’s ‘Folklore & Superstition’ that really made an impression and this opinion was simply intensified by last years ‘Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’. I caught the band for the first time during their 2011 tour supporting Alter Bridge but I was looking forward to seeing how they would perform with a longer slot and the chance to call all the shots.

L.A.’s Rival Sons are the current Classic Rock darlings and have been set up as the New Messiahs of retro rock. If I’m honest I can’t see what all the fuss is about and the material I’ve heard so far has left me scratching my head in bewilderment. The Liverpool Academy was packed tonight, the busiest I’ve ever seen it, and it was obvious from the reception they received that Rival Sons had their own set of fans already in the audience. After a 35 minute set of Led Zeppelin/Black Crowes infused shenanigans I was left totally numb with indifference. The songs seem to lack any kind of structure or identity and just seem to ramble on from one incoherent musical mess to the next. Vocalist Jay Buchanan has obviously watched ‘The Song Remains The Same’ a number of times but he needs to learn that copying Robert Plant’s stage mannerisms means absolutely nothing if you haven’t got the voice to back it up. From what I could discern none of the songs had any real lyrics or themes and were in fact just a series of ‘whoa whoas’ and ‘yeahs’ backed by a guitarist, drummer and bass player all performing different songs……jazzical rock anyone? The look and attitude is admirable but the ability to work together as a band is sadly missing!

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Black Stone Cherry’s entrance is greeted enthusiastically, the atmosphere is electric and the temperature is around 200 degrees. The next 90 minutes fly by and for me it is what a good honest rock show is all about. The set concentrates mainly on the ‘Devil and Deep Blue Sea’ release but we also get the best from the previous two albums. When I saw the band back in November I was blown away by the energy levels and enthusiasm. Luckily we get a repeat tonight, especially from guitarist Ben Wells who would be the perfect candidate for an energy bunny commercial and drummer John Fred Young who is some kind of Animal behind the kit. The mix is initially a little muddy but when the sound gremlins are eventually banished by all the camera flashes Chris Robertson’s voice is nothing short of sensational. It’s hard to pick any highlights as the material is uniformly strong and if there was any doubt at all about the band’s popularity this is dispelled by around a thousand backing vocalists. My one disappointment is that ‘Things My Father Said’ was stripped of it’s original passion and emotion due to the fact it was sung completely by the crowd….an intensely impressive moment in its own right but it meant the hairs on the back of my neck weren’t given the opportunity to rise through the sweat. There is a slightly awkward moment when Wells takes the mic in an attempt to try his scouse accent but Robertson tells him to ‘shut the fuck up’ and things are soon back on track. The acoustic section is something of a surprise as it contains covers of songs by Oasis and Adelle. The crowd remains unfazed however and the singing continues much to Robertson’s amazement. The encore of ‘Peace Is Free’ and ‘Lonely Train’ is short but effective and a 10.20 finish means there is still time for one more drink before the last train home.

Though my opinions on the show weren’t shared by everyone tonight I will still be checking out Black Stone Cherry again, hopefully in a larger venue, with a bigger stage, just to see if Wells is up to the Duracell challenge once more.

Dave Bott

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