Black Stone Cherry at The Academy on 23rd October 2014
“But for now I’ve got to rock and roll!” Six songs into the set during Maybe Someday lead singer Chris Robertson belts out this lyric and captures the mood of the entire crowd. Within a relatively short show, Black Stone Cherry cram in an unrelenting energy, often appearing as though they could not contain it within their bodies.
Regardless of such an admirable display of passion, it still does take time to truly warm up a crowd to get to that point of musical equilibrium. Just as the scales were really starting to balance, the show was approaching its end.
Opening strongly with Rain Wizard and Blind Man, the set is a fine salute to the body of work created so far by the band. Comprising many of the bands big hits and a decent selection from their latest album ‘Magic Mountain’, the set squeezes in 15 songs, the odd instrumental and an impressive drum solo from John Fred Young, the likes of which is rarely seen these days.
It is clear from the outset that the sold out crowd in the Academy are true fans of the band. The audience participation is very strong and the band are happy to let them do some of the vocal work on their behalf, most notably in Blame It On The Boom Boom, a song which is made for such an audience.
Each and every one of the songs played is appropriate for the task at hand: getting people moving and singing and having a good time. It’s just a shame that the band don’t delve deeper into their back catalogue to pull out a few more to keep that ferocious energy going just a bit longer.
However these songs would work best in the middle of the set so as not to alter the final sequence of songs, which for many will define the memory of the night.
Ending the night with a song that started it all, or so says Robertson, Lonely Train is a treat. Oftentimes the biggest and most popular song from a band grows trite or contrived in a live setting over the years but in this case it’s a fitting finale to the main set. Like all artists worth their salt though, an encore isn’t far behind.
While the finale maybe comes too soon, it does leave a lasting impression on the audience. Concluding with a single song encore of the anthemic Peace Is Free is an inspired choice. With just Robertson and guitarist Ben Wells reclaiming the stage initially, there’s a sense that the night is going to end on a sing song.
After a slight guitar malfunction Robertson goes it alone and sings the verse with a little help from the crowd, eventually culminating in a guitar backed chorus of “Don’t you bring your sadness down on me/when peace is free/There’s a sun up ahead brother waiting on me/Can’t you see?”
Having such a poignant end to such a rock n’ roll show is always refreshing. The crowd left happy, albeit a bit earlier than they may have liked.