St David’s Hall was infused with the essence of Rock Music with Black Stone Cherry Bringing Kentucky To Cardiff tonight opening their anticipated tour An Evening With Black Stone Cherry. This is a new venture for BSC as they opened for themselves as Chris Robertson announced and he admittedly they were nervous acoustic with people sitting down was a first! The second half would be typical electric heavy rock mayhem was promised after the break.
For everyone in the audience who had experienced Black Stone Cherry in stadia, it all felt rather strange, stepping on a road not travelled with BSC, up close, stripped down and personal. The stage represented a front porch with bright lights like fireflies caught in a jar decorating the stage to make it look pretty for us. The songs were magnificent demonstrating that underneath the amps and electric are numbers that have the power, intensity working so well as acoustic numbers. Demonstrating the deep roots of rock in folk, bluegrass mountain music and country this is music that evokes Kentucky every bit as much as bluegrass, horses and Kentucky Whiskey. The opening set of forty-five minutes held the rock audience’s attention as they opened with In Our Dreams from their latest album Kentucky and later in the set Rambler and perfect for the acoustic setting; we may be a million miles from Kentucky but tonight Cardiff was an extension of the bluegrass state. The poignant singing of Things My Father Said, completed what was never finished earlier in the year when in Cardiff when the emotion of the number was too much for Chris. With help from the Cardiff audience who never ever need any encouragement to participate and they were happy to join in, the atmosphere was electric throughout the acoustic set as they sung “Big city lights don’t shine for me no more” we knew the lights of the city were shining on BSC tonight. Closing with All I’m Dreaming Of we sat back and thought what a great way to open let’s bring on the main course BSC loud, bright and electric.
With the stage reset and the lights changed Chris Robertson, vocalist strutted on stage complete with a blue PRS guitar, which Chris was delighted with. Chris joined by power drummer John Fred Young, Dancing, leaping guitarist Ben Wells and bassist as solid as the rock they play Jon Lawhon. The four who are Black Stone Cherry needed no introduction as the lights lit up the stage the roar of delight went up and everyone stood to enjoy the Kentucky rock they have come to hear.
The audience throughout were ready to party have fun and a great time listening to music that blasted away any cobwebs lurking in the far high corners of St David’s Hall. Up first in the electric set to cheers and the audience standing Devil Queen blasted away the chill of the acoustic the auditorium was hot. Rock that puts fire in your belly and good vibrations in your ears and a feel good factor this is what Saturday nights are made for. The set list toured their albums with Kentucky’s Soul Machine raising the heat we were now cooking on ten surely we would get to eleven before the night was over. With a live airing for the first time since 2009 from Folklore and Superstitions Please Come In, we didn’t need to be asked twice. We were being absorbed deep into BSC deep, dark lyric driven rock. The band were full of energy with Ben striding from one side of the stage to the other in a few steps his leaping acrobatics added to the fire as the rhythm guitar pulled the sound together. How many drumsticks were broken battered or bruised as Fred Young powered through the numbers? I lost count, some lucky people caught them as they were hurled into the audience. The bass line of Killing Floor adds to the tension as we hit the dark groove of Killing Floor snarling with menace. Two favourites had the audience high and ecstatic as White Trash Millionaire and Me and Mary Jane creeping round the backdoor like a groundhog were aired across St David’s Hall. as the light show flashed and danced reflecting off the walls as strobing to the driving beat of BSC rock. A true if lonely statement Cheaper To Drink Alone full of Southern heat and verve as Chris’s vocals curled around the lyrics, spitting them out, live there were George Thoroughgood riffs and licks in the intro this is what makes live music so special you have to be at the gig to get the full drama, quips and that up close and personal feel. The drum solo with Fred taking control of the stage gave the rest of the band a breather before the last three songs. The Guitar changed now in Chris hands was a red electric lent to him by Luke Phillips of Newbridge band Everyday Heroes; 2016 Steelhouse band winners who opened the Steelhouse Festival. Fantastic to hear the latest single, from Kentucky album Shake My Cage, played live the riffs are just huge as the reverberated around the auditorium. With Blame It On The Boom Boom giving Cardiff another chance to raise their voice, finishing off the second half of the chorus despite the band stopping, Chris apologised live “…we get it wrong sometimes! Let’s do a chorus again if you will join in”. All too soon, it was the last or twenty-fourth Black Stone Cherry number of the night Lonely Train. But there was more, the scale of eleven was now definitely reached with a tribute to Lemmy at the end with a BSC version of Ace of Spades! No one went home lonely filled with the party vibe of An Evening With Black Stone Cherry.
Chris Robertson thanked the Cardiff audience for enjoying the music and how delighted they were to be starting a U.K. tour once again in the Welsh Capital. As they left the stage to Queen’s We Are The Champions encouraging Cardiff to raise their voice once more and shaking hands with as many of the audience as possible. We knew that Black Stone Cherry Bringing Kentucky To Cardiff was a reality, great fun and superb Rock n’ Roll.
SET LIST ACOUSTIC
In Our Dreams (Kentucky)
High & Hell Water (Black Stone Cherry)
Like I Roll (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Things My Father Said (Folklore & Superstition)
Stay (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Big City Lights (Black Stone Cherry)
All I’m Dreaming Of (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Devil’s Queen (Folklore & Superstition)
Soul Machine (Kentucky)
Soul Creek (Folklore & Superstition)
Please Come In (Folklore & Superstition)
Darkest Secret (Kentucky)
Killing Floor (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
White Trash Millionaire (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Cheaper To Drink Alone (Kentucky)
Me and Mary Jane (Magic Mountain)
In My Blood (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Blind Man (Folklore & Superstition)
Change (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)
Shakin’ My Cage (Kentucky)
Blame It On The Boom Boom (Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea)