This evening at the Engine Rooms in Southampton is one that I have waited for for some time. Since hearing that Buckcherry were coming to town, I have waited with baited breath to see how their performance would differ from the previous gig I saw them at. The last place I saw them was Wembley and unfortunately the gig was something of a disappointment with the sound tinny and not impressive.
This evening, however, did not disappoint! Not only was the atmosphere one of excitement from the whole crowd but also one of fun. The fans have been waiting a long time for this gig, in a small intimate venue where you feel like you can reach up and touch the performers. This is not an experience you get in Wembley.
The opening act, the Rocky Kramer band, are energetic and a great warm up. The crowd initially do the usual, stand at the back, get drinks from the bar and chat amongst themselves but as the performance progresses you can see people moving closer and closer. Rocky is a musician originally from Norway, who is now based in LA. With his band, his first US Firestorm was released on the 9th of August this year and picked up a nomination for Best Rock Performance in the Hollywood Music in Media awards. His music appeals to many as he mixes modern metal with old school rock, somehow doing all of this whilst playing with an enthusiasm rarely seen in an opening act on a cold evening in Southampton!
Rocky is followed by The Treatment. The Treatment are an English hard rock band originally from Cambridge who are definitely ones to watch! The band formed back in 2008, however with new vocalist Tom Rampton (joined 2017) their show is one so powerful it was hard to tear myself away from behind my lens after our three songs were over. With Tao on guitar and Tom leading the vocals, this is one show I could watch again and again. The crowd also enjoyed this set immensely, packing the room to the back. Their album Power Crazy was released back in March and is one I recommend, after this gig it was my Spotify sound track for my drive home. “Let’s Get Dirty” is an epic opening song for an album and the rest does not fail to disappoint.
And now, after these great support acts, it’s finally time for Buckcherry to take to the stage. Josh Todd and the rest of the band walk on stage to mad cheers from the crowd. No one is at the bar anymore, everyone has their eyes glued to the stage, waiting in anticipation to hear this set.
Now I can’t lie, Buckcherry are a band I have been listening to for over ten years. They were the soundtrack to my university years, the album 15 listened to on repeat throughout my rotations at university. I also listened to “Crazy Bitch” many a late night as I drove to out of hours calls and in the gym (surprisingly good spinning track for those out there who don’t like to listen to Eurotrash when burning a thousand calories or two!).
They open with “Head Like a Hole” from their new album Warpaint, released in March this year. Josh begins the track on his tambourine before breaking into the powerful vocals he is so known for. This is followed by the track “Fall” from their 2001 album Timebomb. Whilst this album wasn’t greeted by the same success on the charts or with the critics, there is no disappointment in the room.
As the dulcet tones of “Everything” begin, I feel something well, this is a song I listened to over and over through some pretty rubbish times (yeah, we all have our ‘emo’ songs, this is mine!), I can see the couple who attended the VIP meet and greet with Buckcherry earlier in the evening showing the raw emotion this track evokes. Ultimately this is Buckcherry, yes, they are an energetic rock band who play loud, hard music, but it’s the lyrics that truly make this band special. Written by Josh Todd and original lead guitarist Keith Nelson, this is from a different time, a different kind of Buckcherry. With changing lineups their music has certainly evolved, however the lyrics have remained strong as ever. Emotional and raw.
“Too Drunk” (from Black Butterfly) is followed by the power ballad “Sorry”, another song which is a part of the soundtrack of my youth. Whenever I see Buckcherry, it always astounds me how this band can have such a broad spectrum of musical sounds and yet maintain this incredible lyrical cohesion.
As the night continues, I can’t lie, I am waiting with excitement to see “Crazy Bitch” performed and the performance does not disappoint. The crowd are dancing, slamming and going wild as Josh Todd throws himself into performing the track the band are so well known for. Happily, for all, the band don’t decide to wait ‘til the last to play this song, it isn’t the song of the encore, the crowd and I aren’t left wanting, wondering, worrying that this song will not be played! Every second of the performance is a reminder to me why I didn’t give up on Buckcherry when I saw the disappointing performance in Wembley. Josh and co reminded me tonight why I love their music. It’s raw, it’s emotional and more than anything when you see the band throwing heart and soul into their performance you see that they want to play it as much as we want to hear it.
Thank you Josh, thank you Stevie, Kelly, Kevin and Francis. Your performance has been the performance I feel I have been waiting for. This was certainly the performance of the year for me. But let’s be honest, we are coming to the end of a decade and I can honestly say that I am so glad that this show is the show I can remember this decade for. I saw you guys perform a show so incredible that it is my number one.
Photos by Amy Harris-Abbott of CE Photography