Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown, Halestorm, SSE Arena, Wembley, February 4th 2016

Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown and Halestorm, bring the Carnival of Madness to the UK and a packed Wembley Arena. ...

Review by Adrian Hextall (Writer \ Reviewer \ Photographer – MyGlobalMind Webzine)

Picture Credit: Adrian Hextall (MindHex Media)

Thanks to a huge queue at the box office \ guest entry booth and a single mere window to process people with tickets to pick up, the forty minute wait outside meant I missed the whole of Highly Suspect’s opening set. A shame as the band, who’ve just been nominated in the Best Album category at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards for ‘Mister Asylum’, are clearly going places and are deserved of your attention. Let’s hope we get the chance to see them soon.


Halestorm_022A short change over on stage showed a well oiled machine at work and guarantees the packed crowd do not get restless before the lights dim and Halestorm take to the stage. Having last seen Halestorm perform “An Evening With…” at KOKO in London, one comment was that Lzzy tried to do too much. Lead singer, guitarist and playing keyboards as well diminished the impact that the sassy front woman had on an audience. That fear and concern disappeared within the first few bars of ‘Apocalyptic’ as Lzzy, decked out in leather, focussed on doing what she does best, fronting the band and delivering some of the best ballsy rock music you could ask for.

The 8 song set gets the crowd smiling from the off and tracks of all three albums get a look in to remind us of just why we love this band from  Red Lion, Pennsylvania. It’s also a clear indication that the bill fits the appetites of the audience perfectly. T-shirts for all playing are on display and seemingly in equal measure. As such the extra time afforded to them allows Arejay to yes, you guessed it, perform a drum solo. Normally I’d never forgive a support act on a bill to throw in a drum solo during a limited set. To his credit though, he throws all of the normal cliches out of the window and plays an entertaining energised solo that sees him leaping off his stool, jumping in the air and generally doing just what the earlier bands on the bill need to do and work the crowd.

When the band return to the stage, ‘Mayhem’ is followed by ‘Freak Like Me’ before Lzzy launches into a ear shattering scream that she holds for an age before coughing, laughing and then playing a storming version of ‘I Miss The Misery’ that sees the arena crowd singing along with gusto. The only downside. Only 8 songs… but what a great set from only 8 songs!


Apocalyptic / Love Bites (So Do I) / Amen / Scream / I Am the Fire / Drum Solo / Mayhem / Freak Like Me / I Miss the Misery



As the stage is set up for the next act, it quickly becomes clear that Shinedown are no mere support act. The drum riser they bring is the biggest of the night and offers some cool steps up to where the bearded animal that is Barry Kerch then proceeds to spend the next hour pummelling the impressive kit perched atop.

With David Bowie’s ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’ playing them onto the stage, Shinedown launch into ‘Black Cadillac’ from latest album ‘Threat To Survival’ and it’s great to hear some of the new material live for the first time. Bathed in darkness for the majority of the opening song, someone I guess had a quiet word with the lighting team and then the band received the right amount of illumination as befits what is essentially the special guest slot on the bill.

‘Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)’ from The Expendables gets the crowd moving in a great sing along moment and personal favourite ‘Second Chance’ which followed would have had me choked up and waving a lighter in the air had I not been busy taking photos.

It’s telling just how strong the songs are and the confidence that the band have in them that a chunk of the set is taken from ‘Threat..’  The energy flowing from the stage however isn’t enough for Brent and at one point he draws a halt to proceedings whilst he separates the crowd down the middle and walks most of the length of the arena. As he works his way through the crowd he explains the need for us all to “BOUNCE” on the count of 1-2-3. As he returns to the stage and counts down, the arena erupts and goes nuts. Contrast that then with the sea of mobile phone lights and lighters that illuminate the entire arena as they play, what has now become a staple of their live show, Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’.

With the title track from ‘Sound of Madness’ closing the set,


Intro : I’m Afraid of Americans (David Bowie song) / Black Cadillac / Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom) / Second Chance / Cut the Cord / Enemies / I’ll Follow You / State of My Head / Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover) / Sound of Madness / OUTRO: Space Oddity (David Bowie song)

Black Stone Cherry

Back in 2007 when Aerosmith were the main draw at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, this little known band called Black Stone Cherry kicked off proceedings in the tent at mid-day. The buzz about them was already good and the tent was pretty full by the time they came on stage and their short set remains one of those “do you remember when…” moments for me.

BlackStoneCherry_005Fast forward a few years and this is now their second arena headlining tour in the UK. The surprise and gratitude from Chris Robertson acknowledging that people had come to see them again so soon (they’d headlined Wembley in 2014) with no new music on offer is heartfelt and really genuine. They say that Southern warmth and hospitality is a thing and tonight it feels like we’re all part of one Kentucky based family.

Whilst the drum riser pales in comparison to the one Shinedown brought with them, the paired down, sparse set is simple and shows a band wearing their hearts on their sleeves and just playing the music. The podiums at the front and behind John Fred Young’s kit allow Jon Lawhon and Ben Wells to show themselves to the people at the back who forgot that getting there early ensured the best of views.

Ben naturally is a whirlwind of energy and he never rests for a minute as he works every inch of the ample Wembley stage afforded to him. The rest of the band ably support him and both Jon and Chris constantly on the move. At the end of ‘Soulcreek’, Chris takes a moment to pause and admits that whilst they’ve played that song a million times live “I just f**ked up the words to a song we’ve done a million times. But we’re having fun and this is live music…” He receives the biggest of cheers and with that they head into the first single from new album ‘Kentucky’ , ‘In our Dreams’. Again the humbleness from the band is touching, with Chris enquiring if we ‘mind’ if they play it. They’re going to anyway but to ask is a neat touch.

Not to be outdone by Barry Kerch, John Fred Young’s solo is reminiscent of watching Animal from The Muppet Show such is the energy and madness that goes into his flailing arms. As he trails off and comes to the front of the stage and a rapturous reception from the crowd, they all depart except Chris who, with an acoustic guitar delivers a heartfelt ‘Things My Father Said’. He’s so wrapped up in the song, almost living every note played and word spoken that there is a point mid way through that he almost seems to pause and lose his way slightly. Its as if the arena crowd of over 12,000, the band, the technicians and everyone else present had all gone and Chris was stood alone on that stage playing the song solely for himself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so truly wrapped up in their music as Chris was at that point and it’s a memory that will remain for years to come.

There was of course a sea of mobile phone lights during the song and as Chris explains how Jason Todd helped him write it (former member of Shinedown), when the band returns to the stage, they bring with them Lzzy Hale for a great version of ‘Peace is Free’. 

After ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’, when the band return to the stage for the obligatory encore, Chris confirms they have one more song to play. Of their own, yes, in total no. They close the night with a raucous version of ‘Ace of Spades’ and it simply raises the roof.

What a show and a perfect set from worthy headliners.


INTRO:Pony (Ginuwine song) / Me and Mary Jane / Rain Wizard / Blind Man / In My Blood / Ghost of Floyd Collins / Yeah Man (with Roadhouse Blues snippet as introduction) / Holding On…To Letting Go / Soulcreek / In Our Dreams / Drum Solo (with harmonica) / Things My Father Said (Chris Solo Acoustic) / The Rambler / Peace Is Free (with Lzzy Hale) / White Trash Millionaire / Blame It on the Boom Boom
Encore: Lonely Train / Ace of Spades (Motörhead cover) / Madness (Muse song)

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Photo Credit: Ange Cobham

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