[Photos on Flickr – apologies for quality as I left my camera at home! Mobile phone only. Boo]
A small, intimate tour with audience interaction was promised by Black Stone Cherry – and they definitely managed to deliver.
Four dates across the UK with a different set each night. Songs were voted for by fans online, and during the sets there would be pauses for a Q&A with the band. A nice idea, so how did it work?
Well, Glasgow was the first of the four dates so if there were going to be any bugs to stomp, they’d have shown up here. I can state that the show was pretty much bug-free!
Opening with new song “Me and Mary Jane”, they continued with some more well-known tracks [see the set list elsewhere] before pausing for the first Q&A. This was probably the only issue with the set – the fact that the band struggled to hear questions or understand the Scots accent! Hopefully they’ll decide to go with the “man with a microphone” option for the rest of the dates rather than “audience member shouting”. In fairness, the crowd was usually pretty damn good at staying quiet to enable whoever was on stage to hear.
Questions ranged from the interestingly trivial: “What’s your favourite Metallica track?”/”Cowboys From Hell!” to the near time-wasting “Can I have a bass pick?”. Credit to the band that they treated the requests well, and the audience didn’t just repeat them over and over. Once a drumstick was out there, nobody asked for another and so on.
A couple of those types of requests were pretty cool. One guy asked if he could have his photo with the band – so they got him and his girlfriend on stage and took one of those pics with the crowd behind them. Another (a friend of mine I discovered later) asked for her t-shirt to be signed. She’d worn it last time she’d seen BSC live when she was 4 months pregnant. It read “MY BUMP LOVES BLACK STONE CHERRY”.
There was also a raffle for the bass drum head. Four were made, one for each night, and these are being raffled off at a price of £5 per ticket (5 for £20! woo!) with the winner getting the autographed head at the end of the show.
OK, so how about the music? Well, I can’t vouch for the other three shows but the list tonight was as good as you’d expect if a fan base selected it. There were two new songs (“Me and Mary Jane” and the live debut of “Fiesta del Fuego”) among a collection that otherwise was pretty fairly split between the three released albums.
The sound quality hopped around a bit with some of the songs being clear as a bell and a couple of others sounding a tad muffled. A shame as one of the biggest draws of BSC is Chris’ voice – so it was a shame when you couldn’t hear him. Interesting to note that, apparently, he only got the task of singing because he was the only member of the band who could remember all the words at their earlier rehearsals.
If there was a downside to the musical side of proceedings, it was John’s drum solo. Watching him during the songs was like watching a black-haired Animal bashing skins with a mad grin on his face. But the drum solo was wasn’t up to much (sorry, John). It takes something special to make a drum solo work for me – we’re talking mounting it on a roller coaster (Tommy Lee), or a giant catapult (Joey Jordison), or just battering the things like a loon with stuff you picked up backstage rather than drumsticks (Arejay Hale).
Overall, it was a great night and I genuinely think they got the “hospitality” part of the tour name down well. It really felt like the band were saying in all honesty “hey, we’re here for you“.
Apparently, they’ll be back around in August [correction – October] as part of something impressive (announcement in April…) and don’t forget that the new album, Magic Mountain, will be out on May 6th.