Overall Score: 10/10 Setlist: 10/10 Rewatch Value: 10/10 Showmanship: 9/10 Pros: An immersive display of showmanship and being masters of your craft Cons: Would have loved more backstage/ archival footage
Coming off the back of a 22 month period of Black Stone Cherry being missing from Blighty (something to do with a pandemic) we saw the Kentucky natives touch down on British soil. There aren’t many positives to come out of the pandemic, but we find some kind of salvation with the release of Black Stone Cherry’s live DVD – Live At The Royal Albert Y’all. This is the second live DVD offering from the band, the first being recorded at the LG arena in 2014. We couldn’t have been happier to see the band set foot on that stage in September 2021.
The DVD opens with lead singer Chris Robertson being interviewed explaining the magnitude of the occasion and very aptly saying ‘ we are going to royally rock this motherfucker’. We couldn’t agree more. Black Stone Cherry have played to 120,000 people before Guns & Roses, played sold out shows at Wembley Arena but this gig has a different weight to it. This is the pinnacle for any band let alone making a live DVD too.
The PA blares Queen’s – Bohemian Rhapsody – is this the real life? is this just fantasy? A band with a purpose enters the stage. Opening with fan favourite ‘Me and Mary Jane’, the cryo cannons start firing on the downbeats. They move into the scorching track ‘Burnin’ and make it clear that this is a band that is tight as a unit. We see an old track ‘Yeah Man’ from the first deluxe edition of Folklore and Superstition, even though much of this could be new to some fans, there are plenty screaming along with the chorus. The ever athletic Ben Wells is throwing himself around the stage only competing for animal-like prowess with the one and only John Fred Young, hitting the drums like they owe him money.
It isn’t until the elongated jam of ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone’ where we see the introduction of new bass player Steve Jewell Jr. The band is on another plane, playing off of each other and every single member is locked into the moment, and all expertly captured by Mike Rodway for his first full length directorial debut. Poignant moments are captured like a fine art, like the constant tight shot of Chris Robertson singing the emotional fuelled track ‘Things My Father Said’. The singer explains prior to starting how this song took on a new meaning to him after the passing of his father and there is not a dry eye in the house with a rapturous crowd sing along for the entirety of the song.
Now we are over the emotional hill, so to speak. Even Robertson commented that his Dad would tell him to get on with rocking. They launch into new album track ‘In Love With The Pain’ bringing the Royal Albert Hall to a fever pitch. Tracks like ‘Blind Man’, ‘White Trash Millionaire’ and ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’ take the band and audience relationship to the next level, Ben Wells words, not ours. The Cherryheads gospel choir was out in full force.
The crescendo comes from breakthrough hit ‘Lonely Train’ very cleverly interspersed with footage from them playing the same song on their first ever UK tour, a real full circle moment for fans and the band. Rodway really adds to the documentary feel of the DVD by adding the archival footage of the band. It really creates a broad picture of the band’s career so far and how far they have grown together.
As Black Stone Cherry walk on for their encore you can only wonder how they could top this. As Robertson steps forward to the microphone, he addresses the crowd, telling us how we should all appreciate this situation, when we all had rock and roll taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
Wells starts the infamous intro riff for ‘Peace Is Free’ and the Royal Albert Hall erupts with the opening lines of the song. Launching into the chorus you see what it means to the guys, a full 20+ year career as a band culminating on the momentous stage that is the Royal Albert Hall.
This live DVD and record, in years to come will be in the same tier as Lynyrd Skynyrd – Live at The Fox Theatre. It will be future inspiration for a plethora of guitar players, singers, bassists and drummers. This sort of album will be discoverable for a long time, it’s a record that will be found in your parents’ record collection that sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded. This band will always be associated with the upper echelon of Southern rock bands and the DVD really is a testament to that.
Black Stone Cherry’s new live DVD – Live At The Royal Albert Hall Y’All is out now on Mascot Records.