What can be said about a band that is proving they have the meat and the muscle to rightfully claim their throne as Southern Rock Royalty? Quite simply Black Stone Cherry have shown that the grand old dream of making it big is still achievable, from the humble formation in 2001, their simple formula of hard work and writing great songs brings the band to where they are today.
And where are Black Stone Cherry? Selling out arenas would be the short answer! I last saw BSC supporting Alter Bridge at Wembley in 2011, regrettably I've not seen them live since so getting the experience of 'Thank You: Livin' Live' was a must for me. To picture just how far BSC have come since their first album release in 2005, you only have to look at the line up for the forthcoming Canival of Madness tour in early 2016. For a band to be sitting top of the bill with Shinedown and Halestorm, both of which could have sat in that same slot. Back in 2011 I enjoyed BSC more than Alter Bridge (who were still amazing!), mainly attributing this to the energy of the live show. So my expectation before watching this Arena performance was one of a high energy, sing a long favourites and a smattering of southern drawl for added authenticity.
Unexpected was the actual filming preference of the DVD, rather than the usual pro shot camera with multiple fixed views designed to show of the best angles, BSC have opted for a more handheld, 'action shot' treatment. Bringing you right into the fray, this approach works excellently to give a 'this is real' feel, which is a characteristic many will attribute to BSC's success to date. I'm no fashion reviewer but I would be resolutely happy to expound Black Stone Cherry's reality that skinny-fit jeans aren't the only fruit. I for one would happily endorse frontman Chris Robertsons saggy denim ass as the face of rock n roll, with that I can relate and despite his obvious success I would still be comfortable grabbing a pint with the guy.
Fashion tips aside, the Black Stone Cherry experience excels in the live environment and 'Thank You' encapsulates the best that they have to offer. Masters of crowd interaction, it's only really with a sizeable crowd that you realise just how singable the songs are, Chris affords the masses ample time to run with songs and the sense of band feeding off the crowd and vice versa is electric. It would be easy for ego to take over but these 4 southren deities deliver exactly the right amount of swagger, but let the music do the talking. Monologues are kept to a minimum, even drummer John Fred Young keeps his spotlight solo to under 4 minutes. At no point is the audience allowed to get bored, this is true too of the DVD experience - you have the variation from the recorded songs and enough familiarity to want to not miss anything.
Standout moments notably come in the form of the bands biggest hits. The entire crowd sung 'Things My Father Said' (which just magnifies that 'being there' feel) and dual guitar antics during 'Blame It On The Boom Boom' with the blinding inclusion of the 'Layla riff'. As mentioned before, there is no downtime throughout the entire performance and it will take a huge slice of personal preference to find a weak spot. For me personally, it's solely down to which track I like the least, White Trash Millionaire (in case you were wondering!), which while loved by many comes across without BSCs soulful magic. You can check out the 'White Trash' track from the DVD below, it may not be my favourite - but if this is (in my humble opinion) the worst they have to offer, they are doing pretty damned great!
With the Southern Rock genre being a hot commodity in todays industry, it would be easy to dismiss Black Stone Cherry as a fad that will simply fade out as the next big thing appears. Short of the band calling it a day, they have all the ingredients to be right up there with the major stadium fillers and with no signs to the contrary. 'Thank You: Livin' Live' is an excellent addition to any fans collection, if you are expecting them to rise to even loftier heights (like I am) then this will be viewed in years to come as a milestone on that journey.
Available in both DVD and Blu-Ray versions by Eagle Rock Entertainment, you can pick up a swathe of different goodies bundled up in southern style. Head on over to the Black Stone Cherry Store to get your's now. Pre-orders are available up until the 30th October when this bad boy gets released.