Surprising us with a pre-Download warm-up show, Black Stone Cherry “downsized” to the small-capacity Garage venue in Glasgow after previously headlining the SSE Hydro. Tickets sold out in about a minute, but thankfully my wife managed to nab two (for her and a friend) and the wonderful folk at Cosa Nostra set myself and Gary up with guest list access for interviews, photography and reviews. Our thanks to them!
Gary’s photos will be online once he’s worked his magic on them, and the interview with Jon should be online tonight… but in the meantime here’s how good the gig was. Despite the best efforts of public transportation to prevent them getting to Glasgow (your flight can’t land… your flight can’t take off… oh, you’re here but we left your luggage in the States…) Black Stone Cherry aren’t a band to give up easily!
First up, though, a few words from Gary about the support act The Amorettes. My wife and I missed most of their set as we were celebrating a friend’s birthday so were delayed getting to the venue:
First up last night supporting Black Stone Cherry at the Garage, The Amorettes who have their Game face on (pardon the intended pun), this reviewer has seen this superb all girl band now a number of times including a great gig at HRH in Ibiza and they always deliver every time. They start off with “Heartbreaker” from this year’s fantastic debut album Game On and the pace never stops.
This is followed up with “Fire at Will”, Gill on lead guitar/vocal & Heather on bass never stay still always on the go. Next up is the first track from the album “Bull by the Horns” after this I can come out of the pit (photos) and watch the rest of the set properly.
The frantic pace keeps going with Heather banging her head as always, a demon on the bass and in the back with a big grin is Hannah pounding away for she’s worth – and that’s a lot! The set moves on with “Give em Hell”/”Take Cover” and “Shoot from the Hip” with the all too short set ending with the crowd participating to “Hot & Heavy”. This is a band going places with recent support slots with Black Star Riders & Europe. If you get the chance, go see them – you will not be disappointed.
Back to the headliners… Jon had said that the band would be playing their full Download headline set, so the show was very much a rehearsal for the Friday night performance. However, they didn’t hit the stage until later than advertised so I think the folk in the field may get a couple more songs. With four very strong albums to toy with, Black Stone Cherry are never going to struggle to fill two hours.
The first thing that made this such a good night was the sound. The Garage is simply far better acoustically than the echoing vastness of The Hydro. This is a compact, functional, noisy rock and roll venue and it really did the guys justice. I’m at the age now where I have decided to wear ear plugs at gigs – too much suffering for days afterwards if I don’t – and the sound was perfect. The backing vocals came through crystal clear as well as Chris’s leads over both microphones. The band themselves were on fine form and obviously totally pumped for the show, stomping around, headbanging and throwing guitars up in the air at any opportunity.
Blasting through “Rain Wizard”, “Blind Man” and “Me & Mary Jane” before pausing to address the audience, we were gifted with a roughly 90-minute set with no time wasted on crying for an encore and a ton of great songs. Typical of their live show, there was plenty of additional music – extended intros, and a drum solo as well as a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Built For Comfort” as a homage to the band’s blues roots.
Jon’s heavily distorted bass led into “Fiesta del Fuego” around half way through, and John’s drum solo shortly afterwards had me tagging him as the ideal candidate for Animal if they ever do a live-action version of the Muppets. With head bowed and bare hands slapping on the skins he looked every bit the mad puppet drummer!
“Peace is Free” allowed the crowd the opportunity to sing along, but surprisingly there was no performance “Things My Father Said” which has been a staple in past shows.
Having seen the band fairly recently in a much larger venue, I will say this – it’s much more enjoyable to see them play somewhere smaller. They absolutely rocked the Garage whereas I had the feeling they looked a little lost in the cavernous Hydro a few months back. And, most importantly, the sound there is diabolical.
Tonight Black Stone Cherry were given what they deserved: a venue packed to the rafters with devoted fans and a sound tech who knew how to get the most out of a terrific band. I’m sure they’ll go down a storm at Download later today and they deserve to do so. A great bunch of guys, talented musicians and gifted entertainers.
Don’t forget they’re touring again early in 2016 – tickets on sale from June 19th.