Last Friday night, chaperoned by Boy Child, I boarded the 525 to Glasgow, heading towards something just a little bit special.
When I first heard about this particular show, I thought I didn’t stand a snowball’s hope in Hell of getting tickets. However, the music gods were shining on me and I got two tickets at my first attempt.
So where were Boy Child and I headed?
Our destination was The Cathouse for a Nordoff Robbins Scotland charity show. There was only one band on the bill – Black Stone Cherry.
We arrived in Glasgow to find the Central Station crowded with singing, beer toting, football fans. They were in fine voice!
Almost an hour before door’s open, we joined a growing queue. (By seven o’clock I suspect Boy Child was quietly regretting his decision not to wear a hoodie. It was freezing!)
Our early arrival paid off though as we secured a spot right on the barrier.
Then we waited..and waited..and waited.
The rock music blasting through the PA kept the fans entertained but by nine o’clock the packed room was growing restless. Boy Child and I had been kept amused by a large fan who had tried to muscle his way into my spot on the rail. He had even leaned in and asked me to “make room for a fat boy.” Let’s just say I declined politely. He then proceeded to push and lean on both me and Boy Child. We stood our ground calmly and after an hour or so he finally got the hint and moved off into the crowd.
Activity out on stage signalled the imminent arrival of Black Stone Cherry.
First out on stage however was the nightclub owner and chairman of Nordoff Robbins Scotland, Donald MacLeod. Looking resplendent in a velvet frock coat, he welcomed everyone to The Cathouse’s 26th Birthday Party show in aid of the music charity.
Without further ado, Black Stone Cherry took to the tiny stage.
Devil’s Queen followed by Soul Machine opened the show. Instantly the room was alive. Every fan in the room (roughly 750 of them) knew every word and were singing them with all their heart. Those football fans from a few hours earlier could learn a thing or two from a room full of Black Stone Cherry fans!
Any concerns that the set might not have been as energetic as usual due to lack of space were quickly dismissed as Ben Wells bounced about the stage, high kicking as crazily as ever. Where does that boy get his energy from?
Being less than three feet from the stage was an incredible experience. First time I’ve had to duck as the musician on stage leaned out into the crowd, for fear of being whacked by a headstock.
Chris Robertson explained that they just intended to have a bit a fun and play what they felt like playing. The intimate crowd were treated to very special set list that spanned all five of their albums but focussed more on the older material.
We were treated to a rare performance of Please Come In. We also got two premiere live performances of songs from Black Stone Cherry’s last album Kentucky.
The first of these early in the set was Darkest Secret. That’s one awesome song played live! Those boys from Kentucky almost raised the roof off The Cathouse with it and most definitely rocked the room to the rafters!
Mid-set John Fred Young took control of proceedings and put on a mighty fine display of drumming. I may have precious little by way of a sense of rhythm but I could watch him play all night! He had the entire room in the palm of his hands.
The arrival of a tall stool on stage next meant only one thing. It was time to slow things down a bit. Chris made the fans promise to truly listen to the words, explaining that the song means “the absolute world to us.” He delivered a faultless, heartfelt rendition of The Rambler. I love this song and, if you haven’t listened to it, please do. The Glasgow choir sang along passionately, pouring their hearts into the lyrics. Simply wonderful.
When the song was over Chris offered to do a second acoustic song and gave the fans a couple of options. Big City Light won the vote. Another rare performance of a stunning song. Ben’s playing throughout was flawless, proving that he can slow it down and still play with as much passion.
How to follow that? Black Stone Cherry followed it with the premiere live performance of Shakin’ My Cage, another track from Kentucky. In front of me bassist, Jon Lawhon, was head banging, lost in the music as he thundered through the bass track. Ben was soon over at that side of the stage as they traded places. He stood right in front of me, legs apart, head nodding. Awesome site and an awesome song!
All good things have to come to an end and the four boys from Kentucky were sadly soon playing standard set closer Lonely Train.
They still had a little something up their sleeves though.
Lonely Train reached its destination and was swiftly followed by a mighty rendition of Ace Of Spades.
The fans were lapping it up!
Donald MacLeod returned to the stage accompanied by a pretty girl carrying a birthday cake. He led the room in a rousing sing along of Happy Birthday and allowed the Black Stone Cherry boys to blow out the candles (and pinch the cake.)
Just as the audience and some of the crew thought it had all come to an end, Chris stepped up to the mic and declared that they’d missed a song off the set list. Cue frantic lead plugging in by the hard working crew and the Glasgow fans were treated to one final song- In My Blood. One of my personal favourites. Perfect way to end the night.
Boy Child was fortunate enough to be passed a drumstick by John Fred Young, the icing on the cake for him.
Safe to say Black Stone Cherry is In My Blood.
Roll on next Friday when they return to play Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.