Words & Pictures: Jon Theobald
In musical terms it is difficult to quantify what constitutes a ‘legend’ … in pop music it seems to be sometimes ascribed to an artist that has lasted more than a year! But in rock it is certainly an epitaph that has to be earned through a litany of recordings and seemingly decades on the road. The act that graced the infamous stage at Hammersmith Apollo (or Odeon depending on your age) tonight certainly qualify.
As Blue Oyster Cult have been doing their thing since 1971, however lead singer/guitarist Buck Dharma and vocalist/guitarist Eric Bloom even pre-date that by a few years from a previous incarnation. And in this “visual spectacular” era of legendary bands, its certainly one that is confident in its own skin and music that walks on to this cavernous stage with no backdrop, a minimal lighting rig and nothing in terms of pyro or effects to entertain a near-capacity crowd.
The Temperance Movement
Support came from rockers The Temperance Movement who delivered a short set of classic rock numbers with energised front man Phil Campbell doing his upmost to get the crowd moving before the big draw of the night came on.
Blue Oyster Cult
As the dying notes from Game of Thrones theme rolled around the hall, and the opening to ‘Dr. Music’ was struck, that’s exactly what BOC delivered – no distraction, you-get-what-you-paid-for, good old-fashioned rock.
For over 100 minutes and through 17 songs, the band worked their way through an enviable back catalogue of hits to an enthusiastic and dedicated audience. Eric said to the crowd that despite this being only their second night of the current tour, they’d decided to mix it up a little every night – probably a sensible idea when after 50+ years your ‘must have’s’ are longer than your allocated set length!
Buck and Eric mainly stayed by their microphones, singing, joking and talking to the crowd, which left bassist Danny Miranda to wirelessly wander the somewhat spartan stage and interact with drummer Jules Radino and Richie Castellano on the keyboards.
Ploughing through classics such as ‘Burnin’ For You’, ‘ETI’ and ‘Buck’s Boogie’, the biggest cheers of the night were understandably saved for the mighty ‘Godzilla’, Buck Dharma’s guitar solo which segued into the evergreen ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’, which closed the main set.
The encore songs tonight kicked off with ‘Joan Crawford’ and moved swiftly on to ‘Hot Rails to Hell’, before finishing the night with ‘Cities on Flame…’. The audience slowly filing out into the night air went out with smiles on their faces, happy that their legends had delivered exactly what they wanted.
Before the Kiss
Career of Evil
Burnin’ For You
OD’d on Life Itself
Then Came the Last Days of May
(Don’t Fear) the Reaper
Hot Rails to Hell
Cities on Flame with Rock n Roll