Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Post Download Review: Black Stone Cherry

Good Morning!

I thought that today would be a good day to bring you a more in depth review of some of the performances I saw at the mighty Download Festival this year! So without further ado...

Black Stone Cherry

I first heard about this band from the Uberman, after he went to see them with our friend Carl when a last minute ticket became available. I really liked them at the time, but when "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" came out, like blossomed into true love. I can listen to that album in full, over and over, with no track skipping.

Before this year, I had seen them once before, at Download Festival 2011, where they played the Main Stage in an early slot. They absolutely blew me away then, and the video for "Blame It On The Boom Boom" was shot from the live festival footage. I had hoped to see them last year, when they toured with Alter Bridge, but tickets sold out quicker than I could blink. 

So this year, when they were announced as part of the Download lineup, I knew I would most definitely be seeing them again. Even with the massive curveball Andy Copping threw, by clashing them with Slipknot, I wasn't going to miss them. 

I made the right decision. It seemed that a large majority of the festivalgoers were headed to the Main Stage to see Slipknot, which made me quite sad - this band deserve to be recognized! However, this was to my advantage, as the disabled viewing platform was almost empty. I was unable to get a ticket for the platforms in advance, as they had completely sold out, and sadly there were times when my view was very limited. If I wanted to see the perfomance of any band the most, this was it. So I asked the steward whether I could go up when the performance started, if the platform was still below capacity. She was absolutely my heroine that night. She said she wouldn't usually do so, but she could see I wanted to see this band, and the platform had had a mass exodus, so she would allow me up, on the condition that if the platform did get busy, I would come down. It didn't get busy, and I was sat at the front for what was one of my top 5 live sets ever. 

From the second Black Stone Cherry arrived on that stage, I was mesmerized. In their own words, they are "a band who don't have special effects or pyro, or any of that shit, they come with their instruments and play music". I can totally confirm that they do that spectacularly. From the second they opened to the second it was over, they were loud and proud. I experienced so many emotions watching this band, from pure excitement, through to bouncy happy, with ironic laughter, via tears. True story. I am not ashamed to admit that this was the first time I had ever cried during a performance. "Things My Father Said" is taken from the album "Folklore and Superstition", and has probably the most heartbreaking lyrics I have ever heard:

"Things My Father Said"
The things my father said would make me a better man
Hard work and the love of friends, a woman that understands

I hope my father knows the seeds we've sown still grow
At night I go to sleep and pray he's watching over me

Somewhere there's a star that's shining
So bright that I can see you smile
And all that I need is one last chance
Just to hear you say goodbye

Sometimes I remember, when you taught me to tie my shoes
One thing I will never forget, is the day that I lost you

I hope you always know the car that we built will always roll

Somewhere there's a star that's shining
So bright that I can see you smile
And all that I need is one last chance
Just to hear you say goodbye

And if you have a dream you better hang on for dear life
And when that cold wind blows, just let it pass you by

The things my father said

Somewhere there's a star that's shining
So bright that I can see you smile
And all that I need is one last chance
Just to hear you say goodbye

I am very close to my Dad, and the lyrics are both beautiful, and at the same time terrifying to me. 

 Before they played this, Chris Robertson (lead singer) dedicated this to a friend who had lost their father the previous week, and also said it would mean a lot to him, as it was the first time he had been on an extended trip away from his baby son, who had been born in October. Someone has had the courtesy to upload the footage to YouTube - and hopefully I will get his permission to embed the video soon. If not, I would recommend you search for Black Stone Cherry "Things My Father Said" (Download Festival 2013). The sound quality is not ideal, but live footage rarely is. Watching it again still gets me, especially when the crowd are singing alone. I have never experienced such an emotional performance; everywhere you looked, people had arms round shoulders, lighters were in the air, there were strangers hugging and crying, members of the band were crying, and I had turned into a sobbing wreck. But it was phenomenal, and I will never forget how special it was.

A major highlight was the first ever live performance of a song that hasn't yet been recorded for the new album. "Me and Mary Jane" is instantly recognizable as Black Stone Cherry - catchy lyrics, punchy riffs... absolute rock and roll. If it is a sign of things to come, the next album is going to be a corker. Something I love about music, and how I tend to rate a song, is by how easy it is to sing along, particularly for a chorus. BSC are the perfect example of how to do this, and "Me and Mary Jane" did not disappoint. We were able to join in with the second chorus, and you could see how much the band enjoyed that - it was written all over their faces.

"Rain Wizard" delivered the most ironic and hilarious moment of the set. From the album "Black Stone Cherry", it is a firm fan favourite and opens with the line "Here Comes The Rain...". So naturally, as soon as the words were sung, the heavens chose to open. You could not have asked for more perfect timing. Did the rain put a dampener on things? Not at all. The total opposite. People were dancing, singing their hearts out, and having a damn good time. I've been to outdoor gigs where the rain has made everybody bloody miserable, so this made a refreshing change. 

I wish I could give an in depth review of every single song, but a) I don't wish to bore you, and b) I've slept a bit since then and would hate to do the songs any injustice by missing things out. So notable mentions go out to "White Trash Millionaire", "Blame It On The Boom Boom", "In My Blood" and "Soul Creek". All major singalongs, and the crowd lapped them up. 

Despite me really not wanting it to, the set had to come to an end, and did so on a major high, with "Lonely Train". During the set, Chris told the crowd how they had been asked to play due to the massive demand on social media. This  shows just how popular they are - it is very rare that a band are booked on advice of the fans (a good example is Rammstein - people have been asking for them for bloody years!). Also, their management initially said no, as they weren't touring Europe or promoting an album. But they dug their heels in, and said they'd pay for it themselves if they had to, but either way they were coming, and that was that. 

They are an incredibly likeable group of guys. There's no inflated egos, no arrogance, no bullshit. Black Stone Cherry are a group who come on stage to play amazing music and have fun doing it. And that is something more bands should take note of. It is interesting to hear them say that they are more popular in the UK than they are at home, in the USA. It makes you question whether USA rock fans prefer major SFX or theatrical extravaganzas, or us Brits prefer straight music. If I was to choose between BSC being as they are now, or performing with a show like Rammstein did (please note that I bloody loved Rammstein's show, it was phenomenal), I'd go for the first option every time. They are a band who don't need any extras- they put on a brilliant show just with what they do.

It was very satisfying to note that by the end of the set, the crowd had grown considerably. I honestly couldn't recommend a band to you more.This is a band that deserve recognition, and with each album, they are getting it more and more. Roll on 2014 for the next chapter in the Black Stone Cherry story!


1. Maybe Someday
2. Change
3.Blind Man
4. In My Blood
5. Me and Mary Jane
6. Like I Roll
7. Rain Wizard
8. Things My Father Said
9. White Trash Millionaire
10. Soul Creek
11. Blame It On The Boom Boom
12. Lonely Train

The Aporia Rating - 10/10

If you were at Download this year, or enjoyed this review, please leave me a comment - I love to read your opinions!

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