It has been a couple years since Black Stone Cherry have done an arena tour. Something to do with a pandemic?
As the band stepped out to a packed Wembley Arena it was like the band had never been away. The Kentucky natives brought their entire bag of tricks for this tour. As Sam Smith – Unholy blasted over the PA, four familiar silhouettes appeared. As John Fred hits his cymbal for a 40count the arena erupts as the kabuki falls and the pyro cannons go off. Set opener Me and Mary Jane gets the audience in full voice, and Chris Robertson has everyone shout the lyrics back at him.
With the introduction of new boy Steve Jewell it must be a baptism of fire playing to such large audiences. He does not look out of place charging round the stage like he owns it. Duracell bunny Ben Wells is high kicking and sprinting across the stage like he’s got somewhere to be.
As fan favourite Burnin’ kicks off the band settles in and they really hit their stride. Party anthem Soul Creek gets the crowd moving and singing along, so far the loudest crowd participation of the night. As Chris Robertson addressed the crowd he tells them,“we might as well stick to our second record Folklore and Superstition” as he starts the riff to Blind Man.
As the band weave through their set we see the introduction of new single Out Of Pocket, a barnstormer of a track that has a serious thread woven into the lyrics. This new single is the debut of Steve Jewell Jr on a Black Stone Cherry record. No announcements have been made about the new record but we can only hope it’s soon.
Feel good summer anthems Like I Roll and Cheaper to drink alone warm up the nation’s capital, with the latter track getting the Isley Brothers jam section, bongos included, leading into the drum solo – John Fred Young hitting the drums like it owes him money.
Now, like all rock ‘n’ roll rollercoasters we need an emotional ballad to keep our feelings in check. If you’ve watched or attended the Royal Albert Hall gig you know how emotionally charged this song is – especially with the recent passing of Chris Robertson’s father. As the familiar lead guitar line for Things My Father Said starts there isn’t a dry eye in the house. As the crowd join in a mass singalong the band is lit up by phones and lighters. The 10,000 strong crowd really shows what the band means to them.
To lift the spirits of the audience the band bring out their knockout punches. Starting with White Trash Millionaire, following into Blame it on the Boom boom, and into the band’s first hit Lonely Train. Talk about finishing big, the musical money shot if you will, as the band leave the stage for what we expect is an encore. Now as a rule of thumb with this band they usually do Peace Is Free to close out their sets, however, they wanted to keep the party going and the crowd was treated to a cover of ELO’s Don’t Bring Me Down, which featured on the band’s last album – Human Condition.
As the audience joins in with the chorus’s “Ahhh Woos” there’s a look of joy on the band and the crowds faces, and we can’t help but think how far this band has come in their nearly 20 year old career playing to tiny audiences at the infamous Astoria on their first trip to the UK to headlining Wembley Arena.
The band sees so much more success in our fair isles than anywhere in the world, London is a place that they have always said “just gets rock music”. But what America is missing out on is the UK’s gain. Can we see the band getting any bigger in the UK? We hope so. Future main stage headliners at Download? For sure! The band has had a new lease of life with the introduction of a new bass player, so let’s hope this new found energy translates to a fantastic 8th album.