At The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., November 27, 2016

BLACK STONE CHERRY (Live at The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., November 27, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s been quite a year for Southern Rockers Black Stone Cherry. With a sell-out arena tour culminating in a triumphant appearance at Wembley Arena, a Top 5 album and a headlining spot at the prestigious Ramblin’ Man Fair all make 2016 a year that will take some beating.

There’s few bands that deserve such a year more. After bursting onto the scene almost a decade ago Black Stone Cherry have toured, toured and toured some more. Their hard driving work ethic instilled into them from a young age as a result of their Kentucky upbringing has paid dividends.

Of course it’s not all down to hard graft. A natural talent and ability to write with passion and maturity has given them a rich catalogue of material to draw from winning them plaudits from fans and critics alike.

After their tour earlier this year of the largest arenas the UK has to offer, Black Stone Cherry decided to celebrate their incredible year by a run of special shows in more ornate, intimate surroundings. These were billed “An Evening With….” So no support, no diversions just 100% Black Stone Cherry.

The City Hall was not surprisingly sold out well in advance of the show as Black Stone Cherry opened up Act 1 with acoustic interpretations of songs from their debut right through to this year’s Kentucky album with Hell or High Water and The Rambler representing the old and the new. Of course it was the deeply personal Things My Father Said that brought a small tear to the eye of even the burliest of men.

Maybe it was the more sedate acoustic section that fired them up for Act 2 but Black Stone Cherry were even more animated and energetic than usual as they kicked into top gear for the full on electric set.

While the first part of the evening showed Black Stone Cherry at their most reflective they were now in more familiar territory bringing out the big guns Blind Man, Blame It On The Boom Boom, Devil’s Queen and White Trash Millionaire with their punchy riffs and towering choruses along with the bone cruchingly heavy Killing Floor.

In keeping with the intimate setting there was plenty of jocular banter from the stage with the crowd none more so during the celebration of Josh, the bass tech’s birthday when the surprise cake went momentarily missing. The gags came thick and fast as the camaraderie was clear between the whole band and crew.

Vocalist Chris Robertson’s powerful whiskey soaked, gravel hewn vocals, one part Lynyrd Skynyrd and one part Mountain, were colossal. He surely is one of the finest Rock vocalists of his generation. At the back, drummer John Fred Young was finally unshackled and pulled out all of the tricks in the book with a flamboyant show akin to a rabid octopus that would have made Keith Moon glow with pride. Guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lawhon never stopped for a moment, covering every inch of the City Hall stage. It’s fair to say it’s been a while since this stage has seen such a level of energy and those levels tipped off the scale during their own tribute to Jimi Hendrix during show closer Voodoo Chile complete with a guitar solo played by the teeth and a triple onslaught of guitars being played behind their heads. This is what Rock’n’ Roll is all about.

The City Hall has seen some great performances over the years by some legendary artists and Black Stone Cherry delivered a set of such passion and intensity that stands proudly alongside some of those greats of the past. Expect to see a lot more from Black Stone Cherry as they enter the second decade of their already impressive career.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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