For the past 16 years, Black Stone Cherry has been rocking the world. This past Tuesday night, was more of the same from a truly underrated hard rock band. FINALLY on their first US headlining tour promoting their latest album “Kentucky” on Mascot Records, they blasted into historic Asbury Park for a night everyone would remember.
Supporting Black Stone Cherry on this date was Nebraska’s own Through Fire and American Idol Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson.
Through Fire rocked the Wonder Bar with a brief six song set including their songs “Breathe” and “Stronger”, the latter of which was the official theme to WWE’s Backlash 2016. The band is also currently promoting a special edition of their album “Breathe” available via Sumerian Records which has a few extra bonus tracks. HIGHLY recommend picking it up and supporting this band. Their stock is rising, and it will continue to go up.
Next up was Caleb Johnson. I’m sure you’re thinking “Oh great another American Idol winner.. blah blah”. Well let me dispel your idea with this quick summation- this boy got chops. His soulful, southern-blues style of singing very reminiscent of The Black Crowes’ infected the crowd and brought them to his side right quick. Cranking out a short set with a lot of great energy, Caleb Johnson dove deep and dug out his inner Robert Plant for a stirring rendition of “The Immigrant Song” and even a little Freddie Mercury for “Tie Your Mother Down” originally done by Queen.
At a little after 10pm, Black Stone Cherry walked onto the stage much to the audience’s approval. Chris Robertson looked like a dapper gangster wearing a vest and fedora and looked into the crowd as he kicked into the intro riff of “Devil’s Queen”. For the next 90 minutes the Jersey shore town of Asbury was thoroughly entertained by BSC’s excellent songs and hyperactive stage presence. Ripping through their catalog of songs including “In My Blood, Soul Creek, Killing Floor, and their hit “Blame It On the Boom Boom”. All the while Guitarist Ben Wells jumped around the stage like a four year old on a sugar high, never staying in one spot for too long, yet never missing a note. Bassist Jon Lawhon did an excellent job of keeping the rhythm section in check while drummer John Fred Young hit the skins like a butcher tenderizing meat. I’m honestly not sure that ANYONE in rock today is more animated behind the drums than John Fred. I mean seriously who else plays a harmonica during their own drum solo?
Amidst the almost nuclear explosion of energy that was being put forth by both the band and the crowd, they slowed things down for a short acoustic version of “The Rambler” and then their cover of the Marshall Tucker band’s classic “Can’t You See” for which they invited Caleb Johnson back to the stage to share vocal duties along with Chris. There was also a point where the band asked Ron Berman, who signed them originally to Roadrunner Records and again with their current label Mascot, up to the stage for a quick birthday wish from the crowd.
You’ve got to hand it to a band when they show their appreciation to those who’ve helped them rise through the years. And they made sure to thank the fans, without whom none of this ever would have happened. BSC finished off the night with a quick rendition of “Voodoo Chile”, but not before they did their signature three guitars played behind the head move.
Great show though – be sure to check their website to see when and if they’re playing near you and get out and support the music scene!
Review and photos by Bryan Bardes