Black Country Communion, January 2018, Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom

Black Country Communion

Thursday 4th January 2018 

Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom 

Christie Goodwin

It’s a cold, wet evening in the metropolis, but qhat a cool way to start the New Year ! the reassembled international rock quartet take to the stage in London to present a lot of the new BCC4 album plus other selections. From my chat with singer and bassist Glenn Hughes on this site, it was clear that he considered this new record to be their best effort yet AND moreover the trigger for more shows and renewed activity for the rock group. I say rock as this is the core of the show although there is a heavy blues element and a detour to folk-rock at one point.

Hughes is in good humour and strong voice, thanking the audience for coming to the show and acknowledging the talents of his band colleagues. Derek Sherinian is a keyboard god tonight, constantly self-editing and selecting perfect tones for each number. His range is stunning – urgent Hammond, beautiful string patches and what looks like a couple of Nord keyboards on one flank giving a Herbie Hancock-style electric piano palate..all this plus touches of Moog and all through Marshall amplification. Bonamassa does what he always does, which is play to the requirements of the material and using mostly Les Pauls through Marshall gear, effects used only sparingly, Joe never seems to turn FX up to any strong level. It is this ability to perform to the brief that enables him to create or participate in so many projects, from his work with Beth Hart to the Betty Davis record with Mahalia Barnes to his funk outings under Rock Candy. His singing tonight is fine and focussed, his playing fleet and hard-driving, trilling his way up the neck at times and spitting out venemous fills as the arrangements punching their way along. Glenn uses a set of Fender basses through his FX box into what looks like three Orange Terrors into Orange cabs. When Hughes and Bonamassa sing together it’s a unique vocal blend of their own, different from Deep Purple, different from Cream.

Meanwhile at the drum kit, the muscular Jason Bonham certainly makes himself heard. I find his walloping on-or-off playing somewhat OTT however he is the band’s choice and an essential part of the BCC sound. The crowd clearly loves him, not least for carrying on his Dad’s style of drumming. I saw Led Zeppelin in ’68 and ’69 and had exactly the same reaction to John Bonham’s stickwork. How different would tonight have been with, say Carmine Appice, Lenny Williams or indeed Anton Fig. Each to their own.

After the air raid sounds that accompany the group members’ arrival on stage, numbers like Sway fire the crowd up and the energy level is maintained for well over two hours. The highlights include Cold, an exhilarating Over My Head with its soaring vocal and biting band attack, the menacing The Crow, Dubliner Gerry O’Connor’s guest appearance playing mandolin and fiddle for the touching Last Song For My Resting Place, a booming This Is Your Time, airy Song Of Yesterday and the savage slam of Black Country.

For the second encore and after a driving version of Collide, Hughes reappears with a Rickenbacker bass and Joe totes a Stratocaster, launching into a somewhat angry-sounding bravura blues intro in which blistering clusters of notes fly off the fretboard. Eventually the whole band is blitzing through an excellent rendition of Mistreated with a very different instrumental sound. The ascending resolve has lost none of its dynamic appeal and Hughes sings like an angel with Derek and Joe trading stanza’s and reminding me of being at The Royal Albert Hall for the launch of the album Deep Purple In Rock, back in the mist of time. BCC did this song justice tonight, with their own twist.

As the satisfied audience members – including our pals Laurence Jones and Danny Bryant – make their way out of the venue, many superlatives are muttered. We are very glad to have been at this show.

Pete & Glenn Sargeant

(Photo Credits: Christie Goodwin & Eric Duvet Photography)

You can read our interview with Glenn Hughes talking about Black Country Communion here: http://bit.ly/2AEa88L

Black Country Communion’s new album ‘BCCIV’ is out now on Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group.

For more information visit the band’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2zgmUvP