Words: Adrian Hextall
All Pictures (C) Christie Goodwin
We thought it would never happen, 6 years on from Afterglow, the band’s 3rd album, Black Country Communion are back. BCCIV has been critically well received worldwide and made my Top 5 albums of 2017 with ease. Why the gap? Well, as Joe Bonamassa made an effort to emphasise during the band’s show last night at the famous Hammersmith Apollo (Odeon), “One day I just woke up and decided to be an asshole“. Whatever the truth is, the band were unable to perform live (scheduling the 4 members, all of whom have other day jobs being the main factor one imagines) and as everyone knows, the live work is where the money is these days. So BCC just fizzled out. A bit of a twitter spat ensued between Glenn and Joe but as they stood on stage next to each other last night, it’s clear that all has been put behind them and the 4 made great efforts to reinforce the “we are the best of friends just making music” point on a regular basis during their 2 hour set.
Given the spotlight is firmly on the Glenn and Joe show, it was nice to see that both Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian get ample stage space, the latter’s keyboards easily offering him more than he needed for the show but emphasising that he’s very much an equal part of the team. Bonham’s kit with the BCC logo on the bass drum also given enough space to allow the man to shine when the moment calls for it. Both of them in fact got solo spots that weren’t over indulgent but kept the show moving along when Hughes or Bonamassa needed a quick drink or a change of instrument. A neat trick that kept the audience entertained and one that also ensured the songs just flowed along allowing the band to pack a solid 18 of them into the set that included a highlight of the full 8 minutes of ‘The Last Song For My Resting Place”
The set itself is simple, timely and delivered with the sort of professional approach that would put all major management consultancy firms to shame. There was a wealth of experience on the stage (I’m not even going to try and work out the cumulative years of musical knowledge between them) and it showed. A flawless exercise is musicianship, note perfect licks, breaks, mini-solos, fills and of course the vocals. Whilst Glenn may take on the lion’s share of the vocal work, when Joe added his tones to the mix as well, it immediately reminded us just what makes the supergroup (for that is what it is) so …well.. super.
The songs themselves were chosen from all four of the releases to date. BCCIV, the strongest of the four and the most recent release got some of its key moments aired for the first time in London. The highlight as noted being The Last Song for my Resting Place when Bonamassa took over on lead vocals with The Dubliners’ Gerry O’Connor adding fiddle and mandolin to what is the most epic and emotive of songs. Listen to the lyrics and discover their meaning. You’ll wipe a tear from the eye when you’re done!
With no merchandise on sale inside the venue, it was left to the knock off merchants selling on the pavement outside the venue to provide the tour shirts (tour being loosely shown as 2 dates, this and the Wolves show on January 2nd). A shame as the shirt vendors were clearly doing a brisk trade as several thousand people wandered past them after the show.
But it wasn’t really an evening about selling (even if it was possibly the most expensive ticket price for a show at the Apollo for some time). It wasn’t even an excuse to push the new album, this was as Glenn kept reiterating a night where four really good friends got together and played the music they loved.
Nostalgia even kicked in when the band played tracks from the 2010 debut album, One Last Soul being of particular note. The nostalgia element also factored heavily during the encore. Whereas they’ve played Deep Purple’s Burn before now to close a show, this time we were treated to Purple’s Mistreated. It’s a track that was aired when the quartet first performed together during the encore of a Bonamassa show in Riverside, California on March 17, 2010. Before the album had even been recorded. One Last Soul and Mistreated were heard by the crowd. A great way then to come full circle and hear it once more.
There is, according to the BCC website one more chance to see them if you missed either the Wolves or London shows. Blues Alive at Sea IV will play host to the band at the end of February. It’s already sold out but you never know.. you might get lucky. Check out the link below.
All in all a great, professional, perfectly polished performance. To be honest, we expect nothing less with the line up and that’s what they delivered.
See you again in 6 years (or earlier hopefully)
One Last Soul
Song of Yesterday
This Is Your Time
The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall
Over My Head
The Last Song for My Resting Place (with Gerry O’Connor)
Man In the Middle
Mistreated (Deep Purple cover)