Black Stone Cherry show they're ready to take Lynyrd Skynyrd's Southern rock crown

With Lynyrd Skynyrd's impending retirement, the throne of Southern Rock royalty will be open to all comers.

Sunday, 9th December 2018, 16:37 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th December 2018, 16:50 pm
Southern rock band Black Stone Cherry performing at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

And on the evidence of this show at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Friday night, only a fool would bet against Black Stone Cherry grabbing the crown with both hands - and few deserve it more.

Joining them on this tour were fellow Southern rockers The Cadillac Three and Canadian heavy weights Monster Truck, making this one tasty bill.

Southern rock band Black Stone Cherry performing at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Monster by name, monster by nature, Monster Truck certainly lived up to their name with their bulldozing riffs, heavy grooves and powerhouse vocals of Jon Harvey all underpinned by a gritty layer of Brandon Bliss`s Hammond organ.

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True Rocker, The Lion and a thunderous Sweet Mountain River set the night off to one explosive start and received a reception usually reserved for the headliner.

Next up were The Cadillac Three with their potent blend of bluegrass, country and hard rock, who managed to whip up a veritable storm with the likes of Tennessee Mojo and The South nailing their lapsteel-powered redneck rock 'n' roll heritage firmly to the mast. They were sensational.

Twelve years and six albums into their career that has seen them rise from small clubs to headlining arenas, Black Stone Cherry are reaping the rewards of hard graft, endless touring and a dedication that comes from a tough but close family upbringing in Kentucky.

Southern rock band Black Stone Cherry performing at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

With a few albums under their belts, they have the luxury of picking a setlist covering everything from their debut album right up to their current Family Tree album.

And it was from that very record that they opened the set with Burnin' before a double whammy of classics in the shape of Me And Mary Jane and the riff heavy Rain Wizard struck home.

New songs Bad Habit and the groovy funk of James Brown slipped seamlessly alongside the older Blind Man and Lonely Train, showing that the creativity levels are still running high as Chris Robertson`s gritty, powerful holler took control centre stage.

Guitarist Ben Wells and bassist John Lawhon were never still for a moment. It was exhausting watching them criss-crossing the stage and jumping on and off the drum riser at every opportunity.

Southern rock band Black Stone Cherry performing at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Drummer John Fred Young was a human octopus and so flamboyant, giving even Keith Moon a run for his money. Seeing him play the harmonica while drumming during I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man was worth the price of admission alone.

Blame It On The Boom Boom and White Trash Millionaire brought in the big hitters, and when someone in the crowd proclaimed every song was a show stopper, it was hard to argue with them.

Black Stone Cherry put in a performance and spectacle befitting of the heirs apparent of the Southern Rock crown.

MICK BURGESS