DVD Review – Black Stone Cherry – Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham UK October 30, 2014 – Eagle Rock Entertainment
Formed back in 2001 in Edmonton, Kentucky, Black Stone Cherry have spent the past ten years touring extensively all over the world. Starting out in clubs in their home state, they’ve since graduated to headlining some of the biggest festival stages and headlining arenas overseas. Sadly, America is too blinded by a “flavor of the month” mentality when it comes to music that the band are only playing larger capacity clubs and theatres in their own country. While, in a way, that is good for their core fan base, in bigger scope of things it’s a shame because they put on one helluva live show.
I’ve been fortunate enough to witness them a half-dozen times in concert since 2006 as well as interview John Fred Young prior to a show back in 2009. They put on a high energy, musically tight show night in and night out. One aspect I’ve always dugg about their shows is how they incorporate tunes from their influences as part of a medley within their own songs. At any given show you could hear some Willie Dixon, Cream, ZZ Top, Joe Walsh, Adele, Tom Petty or Jimi Hendrix. As a music lover, it is always nice to hear what influences an artist you dig because you may get turned on to something you didn’t know existed. A few of those moments are captured within “Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham UK October 30, 2014” released by Eagle Rock Entertainment on October 30, 2015. The first ever live DVD/Blu-Ray from those fun lovin’ rockers from Kentucky.
Like with most reviews I do of live releases, I’ll spare you my windy track-by-review of the release. I’ll just hit on my personal highlights to keep those kind enough to read this from going cross-eyed! If you digg a band with a high energy show, twin guitar attack and a pulverizing rhythm section then you’ve come to the right place! Ready? Let’s rock!
Lead singer, Chris Robertson wastes no time in belting out “Here comes the raiiiiiiin…..” to kick the night off with fan favorite “Rain Wizard” from their 2006 major label debut. The song is the first of many songs in the bands discography that showcases their knack for writing songs based on actual events, local legends of Kentucky or an array of personal experiences. “Me And Mary Jane” is a hard hitting rocker that sees Ben Wells making good use of a talk-box while the crowd overtakes the choruses in emphatic fashion. “In My Blood” is another one where the crowd shows off their enthusiasm for the message of the song.
The trio of songs, “Holding On…To Letting Go”, “Maybe Someday” and “Such A Shame” really ramps up the intensity very early in the set. The rhythm section of Bassist, Jon Lawhon and Drummer, John Fred Young are super tight. John Fred is ever bit an intense and bombastic as Tommy Lee was until 1995 & Zoltan Chaney but keeps much better time than the latter. Lawhon keeps a solid groove locked down while providing some stellar background vocals. How he does both while covering all areas of the stage is beyond me??!?
“Things My Father Said” is a personal favorite of mine. You will see the band rendered speechless by the crowd as they sing every word while the band provides little more than just the music. It is a powerful thing to witness. I could only imagine the goosebumps the band gets from having something so personal to them adopted as the crowds own. “Fiesta Del Fuego” is a catchy tune chocked full of some nasty ZZ Top inspired groove n’ boogie ending with a blistering jam. The band pays homage to one of the greatest power trios ever with a condensed take on the Cream classic “Sunshine Of Your Love”. It was dedicated mid-performance to Cream bassist Jack Bruce who had just passed away five days prior to this concert. “Sunshine Of Your Love” flowed seamlessly from into one of the best driving songs of the past ten years, “Like I Roll”, another personal favorite from the bands discography.
John Fred Young’s “Drum Solo” leaves you in awe of his skills as a drummer and showman while feeling sorry for his tech. He is an absolute beast behind the kit. The band explores their simple rural lifestyle in the Country-esque “Hollywood In Kentucky” without selling their souls and going all “Bro Country” on ya’all. A little diversity never hurt anyone and the band is certainly diverse with hints of Metal, Blues Rock & a deep appreciation for the early pioneers of Blues. Alright, now I have to admit they caught me way off guard when they tore into the Son House 1960’s classic “Death Letter Blues” that is taken from his song 1930 song “My Black Mama, Part 2” before kicking into “Soul Creek”. Another interesting melding of influence with an original.
The band then gives the crowd a double shot of fan favorites with “White Trash Millionaire” and “Blame It On The Boom Boom”. Midway through the latter as Ben and Chris trade off solo spots they sneak in the iconic “Layla” riff from the aforementioned Cream before leading a call-and-response from the crowd. Chris intros “Peace Is Free” by bearing his heart about some difficult times he and the band endured. It is evident he is eternally grateful for the opportunity to perform each and every night. “Peace Is Free” is another example of the band and audience becoming one. Impressive! The show ends with the band going back to where it all started for them, “Lonely Train (Can’t Judge A Book)”. It is the song that put the band on the map and they play it with the same spirit they recorded it with ten years ago culminating with “30 Seconds Of Death Metal”!
This release is 131 minutes and twenty songs in length. It was recorded at the sold out LG Arena in Birmingham, England. Birmingham is the birthplace of such legendary acts as Traffic, The Moody Blues, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Birmingham holds a special place in the history of Black Stone Cherry as the band was playing to their largest audiences in the city long before the rest of the world caught jumped aboard. The band acknowledges it throughout the show, classy!
This is not one of those live concert releases where the camera angles are robotic and straight ahead. While there are a few static cameras, the majority are handheld or mounted on John Fred’s kit and give one the feeling of being on stage. The band is as energetic as ever, never standing in one place for too long. All the qualities that makes Black Stone Cherry one of the best live bands around are represented but they’re also confident enough to leave in the subtle imperfections that make a truly live show, LIVE! The audio is a warts n’ all mix (that’s not a band thing) provided by singer/guitarist Chris Robertson while the bands lighting director Joe McKinney mans the video edits in stellar fashion. No audio overdubs or blitzkrieg editing here! You feel like you are in the LG Arena for this memorable show. Well done gents, well done!
Black Stone Cherry – Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham UK October 30, 2014
Release Date:October 30, 2015 via Eagle Rock Entertainment
DVD+CD, Blu+ray+CD, Digital Video, and Digital Audio
01. Rain Wizard
02. Blind Man
03. Me & Mary Jane
04. In My Blood
05. Holding On…To Letting Go
06. Maybe Someday
07. Such A Shame
08. Things My Father Said
09. Fiesta Del Fuego
10. Sunshine Of Your Love*
11. Like I Roll*
12. Bad Luck And Hard Love
13. Drum Solo*
14. Hollywood In Kentucky*
15. Hell And High Water*
16. Death Letter Blues/Soul Creek
17. White Trash Millionaire
18. Blame It On The Boom Boom/Layla
19. Peace Is Free
20. Lonely Train (Can’t Judge A Book)
* = Not on CD
01. Blame It On The Boom Boom – Live From Download Festival 2015
02. In My Blood – Live From Download Festival 2015
Download 2015 Interview w/ Chris & Ben
Black Stone Cherry:
Chris Robertson – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Ben Wells – Guitars & Vocals
Jon Lawhon – Bass & Vocals
John Fred Young – Drums & Vocals
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“Things My Father Said’ (Live)
“White Trash Millionaire” (Live)
“Me And Mary Jane” (Live)