Black Stone Cherry, Stone Gods plus Sevendust @ Oxford 2008

I was looking forward to this gig at the Oxford Academy.  It was going to be heavier than a lot of stuff I had seen recently, it was in a venue which I like and which I consider to have a good sound, and it was easy to get to with good parking available…although I did manage to almost run out of petrol on my journey !

I knew nothing about Sevendust.  Apparently they are the headine act with Black Stone Cherry in the US.  They are not my thing – I think they come within the nu-metal heading – but they were competent, they were sincere in saying they were pleased to be over here, and they went down very well with a majority of the crowd, by the sounds of it.  And in a nice touch the lead singer from Black Stone Cherry joined them on stage for one of the songs.

I had seen Stone Gods with Airbourne at the Astoria and been so impressed that I bought their album that night – and they must have been good then, because I thought the Astoria sound was terrible.  I have always found the Oxford sound to be good, and was hoping they would build on the good impression I had from many listens of the album – and they did not disappoint.  Which, frankly, is testament to just how good they are, because I understand this was not the smoothest of tours for them from a technical and sound point of view – no sound check for them tonight.    Some solid heavy rock from them, loads of potential, some great solos, and in Richie Edwards they have a frontman who really knows how to work a crowd – and the fanboy in me (or at my age should that be fanman…sounds like a superhero with the power to make you feel less hot) loves it when his walkabout takes him right past me !  I did not keep a note of the setlist but it included Burn The Witch, Knight Of The Living Dead, I’m With The Band and Making It Hard.  I am already looking forward to the 2009 headline tour – and I do not think I am alone in that judging by the reaction of tonight’s crowd to this set.

I had been into Black Stone Cherry since their debut album, and love their brand of hard southern rock.  To be honest, their set was even harder than I had thought it would be, and it made for a brilliant evening.  You can’t really go wrong with your set starting with the cry of “Here Comes The Rain !”, and it thundered on from there.  The band are tight, the sound is loud, they are clearly enjoying themselves and putting everything into it – and through it all they remain humble and appreciative of the support they are getting from a truly partisan crowd.  It’s hard to think that they left anything out that I would have preferred, as Rain Wizard was followed by Backwoods Gold, Blind Man, Ghost of Floyd Collins, Hell And High Water, Long Sleeves, Please Come In, The Bitter End, The Key, Reverend Winkle, Lonely Train, Peace Is Free, Shooting Star and Maybe Someday.  And The Key featured not only a blistering drum solo, but a jam session where the guitar tech came on to take over, allowing Chris to take over on drums, while John came forward with some fine harmonica.  I had to rush away at the end, but the band were then coming out to the merchandise area to meet people, chat with them and sign autographs – a much appreciated gesture, I am sure.

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