Kentucky hard rockers Black Stone Cherry brought the sound of The Deep South to Wembley’s SSE Arena on Saturday 1st November 2014. Looking as though they had just climbed out of their pickup trucks rather than arena-headlining rock stars, the band went on to play an astounding show to end their first UK arena tour.
With a white curtain obstructing the stage, the band’s silhouettes towered above the audience to the intense opening riff of “Rain Wizard.” As Chris Robertson’s (lead vocals, guitar) powerful voice filled the arena with “Here comes the rain!” the curtain dropped with a blast of their pyrotechnics. The Kentucky Quattro showed no sign of stopping as they swiftly followed with “Blind Man” and the first single from their latest album, Magic Mountain, “Me and Mary Jane.”
Showing a more tender side of their music, the band went on to play “In My Blood,” and later in the set, “Things My Father Said.” For the majority of these ballads Robertson stepped away from the microphone to hear the audience sing along to his lyrics. Robertson became noticeably moved as the crowd of twelve thousand bellowed their hearts out, and while it would have been incredible to hear his defining voice sing such meaningful songs, it was hard to argue with the amazing atmosphere this created in the arena.
The 80s metal-styled platforms that enclosed the stage appeared to drown the band and their equipment, especially in comparison to supporting band Airbourne’s twenty-four amp setup. Nevertheless, Robertson and fellow band mates John Fred Young (drums) Ben Wells (guitar) and Jon Lawhon (bass) broke free from their surroundings with their dominant sound and set list, which went on to include “Holding On… To Letting Go,” “Maybe Someday,” “Such a Shame,” “Fiesta del Fuego,” “Like I Roll,” “Bad Luck and Hard Love,” “Hollywood In Kentucky,” “Hell and High Water,” “Soulcreek,” “White Trash Millionaire,” “Blame It on the Boom Boom,” and even a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.”
Returning onstage for an encore the band seemed genuinely grateful to be playing such a renowned venue as they thanked their fans. Before going into “Peace Is Free,” Robertson stated “This is unreal. It’s because of you we’ve made it here… The UK made this band. That’s why we won’t stop coming back.” Black Stone Cherry ended the night with an incredible performance of “Lonely Train,” which left the crowd roaring for more.
After years of making their way up from venues such as the London Astoria and Hammersmith Apollo, Black Stone Cherry proved themselves a worthy arena headliner. The sound they have created is truly made for the larger audience. Maybe someday we will we see them conquer the main stage at Download Festival.