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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Poppin' Cherries

You really can't beat Sundays for a shit night to go giggin'. However, as it was Black Stone Cherry, me and Hot Chick knew that we'd have to make the long arduous journey from Tunbridge Wells to glorious Brixton in the pissing rain and freezing cold because to be honest, missing Edmonton, Kentucky's finest was not an option.

Got there, queued, beers, down the front for the first support act - long time since we've got anywhere early enough for to do this. So there we stood as Sevendust, Georgia's most dated metal band, took to the stage. Don't get me wrong; these guys had a fierce energy but to be honest, the massive muscles and backwards baseball caps were a bit Fred Durst-tastic. To give them their dues, Morgan Rose on the drums was a fucking nutter but even his gob-up-in-the-air-and-catch-it-in-your-own-mouth and Tommy Lee stickwork couldn't stop me feeling a little bit like I'd seen this yeeeeeears ago. Lajon Witherspoon's vocals were good but when they were joined by BSC's Chris Robertson, there was a gulf of difference between them - ironic seeing as Chris would have been about 4 when Sevendust formed (under one of their many different names).

Next up were Stone Gods. Having recently seen former Darkness man Justin Hawkins in his new fucking abomination of a band Hot Leg ("Eat My Beer", November 19th), I was apprehensive to see what his brother Dan and the rest of the Lowestoft boys would come up with. However, in the interest of not being a stereotypical judgemental metalhead, I thought I'd give these guys a chance. Richie Edwards on vocals (I'm pretty sure not the long-missing Manics guitarist) did vibe with the crowd pretty well and their music was good old fashioned rock and roll. Nothing about them changed my life but they were enjoyable, and should their album "Silver Spoons and Broken Bones" be available on a "3 for £20" at HMV, I may consider investing.

And then Black Stone Cherry took to the stage. My prediction of them opening with "Blind Man" was a poor shout as they kept it old school, the thundering floor tom and bass line of "Rain Wizard" merging straight into "Backwoods Gold" was a great opening to their debut album and an even better opening to their live shows. Chris Robertson has a phenomenal interaction with the crowd and the fact that this was the biggest headline show they have ever played made them even more humble than usual. I'd like to also nominate Guitarist Ben Wells for "Fucking Nutty Headbanger Of The Year, 2008" as his head looked like it was going to fall off his neck on a number of occasions. Rob Flynn would be impressed.

As they continued to mix up the tunes from their first and second album - "The Bitter End" was a particularly intense breakdown that instigated a surprisingly swirling pit - the real BSC moment came from when the guys from Sevendust came out and took over some of the guitar duty, whilst John Fred Young left the skins and came stage front with a harmonica, leaving Chris to take care of the drums. A truly exceptional display, serious fucking groove from all involved.

John Fred still ain't exactly the world's best drummer - he can play like a demon but struggles to keep time as he gets a wee bit excited! His trick of throwing the sticks away and carrying on with just his hands is funny as fuck though; I watched the dude from Whitesnake doing exactly the same thing round a mate's house the night before.

Unfortunately we had to leave early due to the spasticated nature of Sunday trains but the hour-and-a-bit we saw of Black Stone Cherry reaffirms my belief that they are going to be bigger than they ever thought possible. Hailing from a town of 1,500-odd in the dirty South, I can see these guys reaching venues ten times this size. The crowd was a mix of 40-year-old rockers, bikers, emo kids, metallers - all of whom belonged there. BSC are a truly universal band - I just hope their ever-growing popularity doesn't dilute the rawness of their music.

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