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The Midlands Rocks

Black Stone Cherry + Airbourne + Theory Of A Deadman @ LG Arena, Birmingham – Thursday 30th October 2014

Review by Peter Keevil, photos by Mark Lloyd

Black Stone Cherry returned to the UK for an arena tour, that included an 8,000+ crowd at the LG Arena.

First a quick mention to local act Martyr De Mona, who turned in a fine acoustic set in the foyer of the LG Arena, keeping the growing throng entertained before the main event.

Theory Of A Deadman

Theory Of A Deadman

Canadians Theory Of A Deadman opened proceedings to an early LG crowd and brought with them their usual eclectic brand of Country/Alt-Metal. On individual songs TOAD are often as good as much bigger acts. New songs like the ‘Savages’ and ‘Drown’ are as dark, edgy and brooding as the best from Alter Bridge. On the flipside the Americana/country rock sounds of ‘Bad Girlfriend’ and ‘Hate My Life’ and ‘Lowlife’ are as catchy as Chlamydia at a Koala bear sanctuary – but both types thrown together in a short set and it doesn’t quite work; it was as if the playlist between two genres had got muddled up. That aside, I was still bopping up and down with the throng as the trailer-trash classics rolled out.

Listen to our interview with Tyler Connolly

Airbourne, of course, have no identity crisis. They tell it as it is; straight ahead four/four hard driven and hollered rock n roll. Some mighot say that it’s a shortcoming of theirs but for a support slot to a primarily standing audience it was just the ticket. Sure they are like AC/DC but there are plenty of bands like Led Zeppelin who make a decent living, so why not another band hewn from the same backwaters of Australia.

Airbourne

Airbourne

They are no mere clone of the Youngs though. No, the O’Keeffe brothers are ready for a fight and don’t seem content until it all kicks off. The LG crowd take a while to warm up but Airbourne are nothing but relentless and across their set; song by chest-thumping song, they break down the reticence and finally have the front section crowd surfing and clashing in a circle of death.  It was impressive to watch, as main man and big bro, Joel O’Keffee worked and worked the crowd until they attained the same level of intensity as that on the stage.

All the techniques were on hand… The bottle-of-red-wine-crowd-salute; the shaken and ripped open beer can; the frenzied soloing run through the crowd on top of shoulders to tear up the central sound-desk. They even brought out an authentic WWII air raid siren to introduce ‘Live It All’ but it wasn’t until the final, extended version of ‘Runnin’ Wild’ that included Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ and the Dacca’s ‘What Do You Do For Money, Honey?’, that the crowd relented and took the only path they could; the one that led to a rock n’roll crowd-brawl. The perfect support set.

Listen to our interview with Ryan O’Keeffe

1. Ready To Rock
2. Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
3. Chewin’ The Fat
4. Girls In Black (crowd run)
5. Cheap Wine And Cheaper Women
6. Black Dog Barking
7. (Siren) Live It All
8. Runnin’ Wild
(Paranoid)
(What do you do for money, honey?)
(Pit)
Runnin’ Wild

Black Stone Cherry love the UK and the UK love Black Stone Cherry. Even more so, they love the Midlands. They have stormed Donington on a number of occasions and played a debut UK show in Birmingham some 7 years ago, so its fair to say they have a love affair with the central part of our little island. At one point during the set, singer Chris Robertson expressed the dark place that he was in a little while back and that it was through watching videos of their shows at the Academy in Brum that had helped him through it. Now, they chose this night at the LG to record their DVD – ahead of Wembley Arena no less.  Over 8,000 Southern rock ‘n’ roll lovers gathered to express their feelings for these homely guys from Kentucky, USA and it turned the night into one big aural (oral?) love in.

Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry

Having seen these guys on numerous occasions, including that debut show at the old Barfly, it was a little disappointing that the set was tried and tested; that the idea of the arena didn’t make them think a little outside the box. However, to hear their collection of fabulous song writing and stunning delivery is never going to tire. The pre-show muslin sheet fell away to reveal the impressive full scale Magic Mountain backdrop. Other than that the Cherries kept it lean and mean, allowing the dynamic duo of Wells and Lawhon to rack up their usual multi-mile, criss-crossing of the boards and left Robertson to hold centre stage.

The quartet are renowned for wearing their hearts on their sleeve and Roberston regaled his love and thanks for all the support offered up on more than one occasion; the ultimate compliment paid back in spades by the crowd when they sang ‘Things My Father Said’ word perfect – the auditorium a sea of mobile torch lights and clearly bringing the big fella to tears.

Drummer John Fred left several layers of skin behind during a thunderous drum solo before the triumphant ménage a trois of ‘Soulcreek’, ‘White Trash Millionaire’ and ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’, closed the show.

Robertson again pleaded with the crowd to ‘give everything you’ve got’ during the heartfelt, ‘Peace Is Free’ before the perennial set closer of ‘Lonely Train’ had 8,000 people jumping in unison.

It’s great to see Black Stone Cherry growing into an arena act. The effort they have put into the UK market is bearing dividends and if you listen to our interview with bassist, Jon Lawhon you will understand how much it really does mean to them and that this is just the beginning.

Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry

Listen to our interview with Jon Lawhon

Setlist:
1. Rain Wizard
2. Blind Man
3. Me And Mary Jane
4. In My Blood
5. Holding On…To Letting Go
6. Maybe Someday
7. Such A Shame
8. Things My Father Said
9. Fiesta Del Fuego
10. Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream cover)
11. Like I Roll
12. Bad Luck & Hard Love
13. Drum Solo
14. Hollywood In Kentucky
15. Hell & High Water
16. Soulcreek
17. White Trash Millionaire
18. Blame It on the Boom Boom
19. Peace Is Free
20. Lonely Train
21. 30 Seconds of Death Metal

See more of Mark’s photos here

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  1. Rock'n'Roll3103 says:

    “Canadian’s” ??

    I don’t know where you were standing but eight rows from the front and Chris’s guitar solos were silent until about half way through the show. Then someone tweaked a knob and at last we could hear his solo’s. Friends standing by the sound desk said the sound was great all the way through.