REVIEW – BLACK STONE CHERRY

Black Stone Cherry – Thank You: Livin’ Live (Eagle Vision)

Genre: Hard Rock/Southern Rock

The adopted sons of the UK live scene and already big enough to headline Download’s second stage, Black Stone Cherry have built their formidable reputation on incendiary gigs showcasing an increasingly mature back catalogue.

Consequently this full live show, filmed in Birmingham 12 months ago, makes complete sense. Demand for a DVD portraying the band in their best light had rocketed prior to Thank You: Livin’ Live‘s long-awaited release but is this what fans really wanted?

Surely not. The BSC boys deserve better than some of the ropiest camera work this side of a You’ve Been Framed clip circa 1986. If the plan was to produce something akin to a fan-filmed YouTube video then fair enough – keeping it real and raw is one way to approach a live show.

But the other way is to make the most of modern technology, high definition video and multiple camera angles. There are times when the action shot from behind the sound desk is so bad your mate’s old school Nokia would have been a better bet. It’s quite simply baffling.

And even more so because the audio is sharper than a Saville Row suit. Blast this through your surround sound system and it’s crystal clear why Chris Robertson and co. are widely recognised as connoisseurs of hard rock at the top of their game.

The quick one-two of Rain Wizard and Blind Man – both good enough to be the encore tunes of choice – prove to be a knockout choice as atmosphere builders and crowd pleasers. After that it’s plain sailing and Ben Wells, in particular, benefits from the blistering sound. Guitar tech Jake Hobbs must take some of the credit for creating a sound quite unlike anything else on the heavy rock/Southern Rock scene right now.

The Brummy fans lap up a passionate performance like cats at a creamery and if drum solos are inherently dull then John Fred Young’s is typically compelling. This bloke doesn’t just bash his skins for fun – it’s as if he’s consumed by a devilish alter ego every single night.

And if Robertson still relies on the masses to sing far too many key lines his pipes hold firm when it matters most.

Live favourites White Trash Millionaire, Blame It On The Boom Boom and Lonely Train (Can’t Judge A Book) have never sounded better but surely this is supposed to be an all-consuming sound and vision experience. Rest assured your ears will bleed. But why director Ryan Mackfall felt the stripped down approach to filming would work best is anyone’s guess. Because it doesn’t.

As an audio record of Black Stone Cherry at their bombastic best this is the business. But from a performance angle it simply doesn’t do justice to four of rock’s finest showmen.

RUSHONROCK RATED: DVD – 4/10 CD 9/10 Black Ops

I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.

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