The arrival of Black Stone Cherry in town, rescheduled from nearly a year ago, was the occasion for a lot of clapping and cheering at St David’s Hall – live music has been away too long and this audience was ready to rock. The Kris Barras Band started off the event, though, with a high-octane performance. Ex-cage fighter turned musician Barras delivered old and new songs such as Dead Horses and Hail Mary with power and confidence, threw in some pretty decent shredding, and proved he can hold his own against more established bands.
How do you keep rockers amused during a long break? Play songs they can sing along with: Tenacious D’s Tribute, Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills… Black Stone Cherry wandered on stage to strains of Bohemian Rhapsody, like a group of friends turning up for a jam. They opened with Me And Mary Jane and the bar set by the support band was about to be raised a few notches.
A seated venue isn’t conducive to movement, so when guitarist Ben Wells told everyone to get on their feet, the shift in atmosphere was palpable. A few songs in and it became clear that this was not just a gig but a show, and there was almost as much talking as there was singing. Chris Robertson is an evangelist; the theme of the evening was love, and the audience was feeling it. He lost his father recently and the poignant Things My Father Said, accompanied by twinkling camera lights, showed his quieter side. After that, the night got louder and faster, and hits Blame It On The Boom Boom and Lonely Train had everyone joining in.
Black Stone Cherry’s energy is infectious and there wasn’t a dull moment on stage. Wells was all high kicks and quips, and John Fred Young, who sat godlike on his platform, knocked out an intricate and interesting drum solo. The show ended with three words Robertson wanted the crowd to remember: peace is free. When you leave a venue with sore hands you know it’s been a good night.
St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Fri 24 Sept
words LYNDA NASH photos ANTHONY JAMES
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