It’s always quite exciting going to a new venue for the first time, and here at cackblabbath.online we’d heard nothing but good things about the impressive SSE Hydro in Glasgow. Since relocating to Scotland I’ve been getting to know the venues back in the motherland, so the arrival of the Black Stone Cherry /Airbourne / Theory of a Deadman tour in Scotland’s second city was not to be missed.
Well, two thirds not to be missed. The inevitable delays in getting in and parked meant that TeamCB arrived just as Theory Of A Deadman are finishing up, although whether that is a good or bad thing seemed to depend on who you asked.
The buzz of anticipation that runs through the crowd as the arrival onstage of the irrepressible Aussies approaches is palpable. The house lights go down,the stage lights come on and Airbourne rip straight into Ready To Rock..
Well three quarters of them do…
I must admit that they do work pretty well as a power trio, but the missing amigo soon takes his place stage left as Bassist Justin arrives onstage.
Maybe he was off checking his Facebook ?
Airbourne are a band who know how to work a crowd, and if the Hydro audience were a little reluctant to join in through the first couple of tracks Joel and the boys get everyone right on-side with a rock’n’roll run through of Scotland The Brave.
All the staples of an Airbourne live show are here, throwing cans of lager into the crowd (goes well with haggis apparently), going walkabout on a roadie’s shoulders through the crowd and the typical Aussie banter. This is a band who know their audience and what buttons to push. When a request to get girls up on their bloke’s shoulders was met with indifference all it took was a shout of “Come on, this isn’t Edinburgh” to get the Weegies playing along.
This feels more like a co-headline performance than a support slot, to the point where the band leave the stage with the crowd baying for more. The wail of an air raid siren ring out (a real one, no backing tapes here) and the band come back out to finish off with Live It Up and, obviously enough, Runnin’ Wild.
Airbourne have always been a great live band, but tonight they are at a whole new level. They may be supporting Black Stone Cherry here, but it’s not going to be long before they are an arena headline band in their own right.
Whatever happens, right now they’re a tough act to follow.
Black Stone Cherry have been quietly getting bigger, and bigger. Not that long ago they played their first show in Glasgow to a couple of hundred punters, and here they are headlining their own arena tour. From the start they just ooze confidence, this is a band who know exactly how good they are, and the passionate response they get from the crowd fuels that. Understated with a minimum of stage set (apart from a couple of platforms at the front and ramps at the back), they let their music do the talking and make it all look so, so effortless. That’s not to say it’s all static though, far from it.
Ben Wells never stands still for a second, making full use of the ramps and risers and I promised myself i wasn’t going to make any Animal / John Fred Young comparisons but from the way he batters 10 bells out of the kit I’m going to.. in fact I just did.
Black Stone Cherry seem to have made it huge without making any compromises along the way. It’s still the same no frills rock’n’roll it always was, and although I think their natural element will always be in a sweaty little club, no one would question that the whole BSC experience scales up to arena-sized without much in the way of loss-of-impact.
Of course having a virtually unrivaled array of anthemic, sing along tunes doesn’t hurt with the early arrival of Me And Mary Jane providing an immediate highlight. Front and center Chris Robertson may look more farm worker than rock star (he leaves that to the rest of the band) but as he belts out hit after hit, riff after riff he has the whole SSE Hydro crowd right in the palm of his hand.
We sing along, we dance (well some of us do), we even excuse them the drum solo.. now THAT’S the sign that a band can do no wrong…
Of course the two Black Stone Cherry songs that everyone knows make an appearance, and the double-tap of White Trash Millionaire and Blame It On The Boom Boom sends a jolt of energy through the place as the crowd roar back at the band until they are hoarse. You want a party atmosphere, well THIS is a party atmosphere.
Honestly, it’s not a proper arena show unless there are a couple of proper lose-yourself, fist in the air moments and Black Stone Cherry passed that marker with style. The set ends with the in-joke of 30 Seconds Of Death Metal and after a single encore in the welcome form of Peace Is Free it’s all over and the band take a triumphant bow.
In all honesty I wasn’t quite sure how Black Stone Cherry would fare on their step up to arena-sized but if it fazed them at all then it didn’t show.
Only a truly great band could avoid being eclipsed by Airbourne, guess that means BSC are a truly great band then.