BLACK STONE CHERRY / THE CADILLAC THREE / MONSTER TRUCK - SSE Wembley Arena, London 14.12.18
PHOTO CREDITS: JON THEOBALD PHOTOGRAPHY
As the festive season closes in the winter gig season draws to an end, if you’ve managed to see all the great bands that have been touring the past couple of months you are either a) considerably richer than most or b) eschewing the gift giving commercialisation of Christmas and pumping all your spare funds into supporting bands. And kudos to you if you chose option b.
Of all the tour announcements made earlier in the year there was one that stood out from the pack. BLACK STONE CHERRY on a full arena tour supported by THE CADILLAC THREE and MONSTER TRUCK. On paper it’s a hell of a line up but could it live up to the hype?
MONSTER TRUCK are up first, looking to cement their reputation as one of rock’s finest up and coming properties. At first the huge stage threatens to swallow the band although their big rock sound amply fills the arena. They grow into their set however, and despite the early start, when half the crowd are still probably traipsing across London from their day jobs, they manage to get a good amount of people front and centre and receive a warm reception from those who have made the effort to arrive early. They have certainly won over a few new fans here, which bodes well for their own headline tour in 2019.
Jon Harvey – Bass and Vocals
Jeremy Widerman – Guitar and Vocals
Brandon Bliss – Keys and Vocals
Steve Kiely – Drums and Vocals
Our Interview with Steve Kiely, pre-tour: https://www.downthefrontmedia.com/new-blog-1/2018/12/7/interview-with-monster-truck
By the swelling of the ranks within Wembley Arena it appears THE CADILLAC THREE already have a fair amount of fans in. One of the hottest country rock properties in the world right now they are gaining traction on both sides of the pond and it’s easy to see why.
Within seconds of launching into ‘Peace, Love and Dixie’ they have the crowd eating out of their hands. Their sound as huge as ever despite being a three-piece and one of those pieces being the rather unconventional lap steel guitar. It leaves them as a rather static band but frontman Jaren Johnston’s charisma and their anthemic singalongs more than make up for the shortfall. They rollick through a set containing all the usual suspects; ‘Bury Me In My Boots’, ‘Slide’ and ‘Tennessee Mojo’ all get the crowd going and while the more Springsteen like ‘American Slang’ and the tender ‘White Lightning’ prove there’s more to them than whiskey soaked anthems it is in truth a setlist that anyone who saw them at Ramblin’ Man Fair earlier in the year will already be familiar with.
While sticking to the tried and tested for a support slot makes sense you feel it is a set that could do with a bit of a refresh next time they return to these shores. That said as they throw themselves into ‘The South’ it’s clear the crowd are lapping it all up and it wouldn’t be a surprise if in a couple of years TC3 are headlining an arena tour of their own.
Jaren Johnston – Guitar and Vocals
Kelby Ray – Lap Steel and Vocals
Neil Mason – Drums and Vocals
The challenge then is for BLACK STONE CHERRY to match all that has gone before them. And they do so with aplomb.
They take to the Wembley stage like they were born to play it and fling themselves into ‘Burnin’’ from their recent 'Family Tree' album. It is a testament to both their longevity and consistent quality that they can liberally pepper their career-spanning set with new songs such as ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and the deliciously funky ‘James Brown’ and they are met with the same enthusiasm as classics like ‘Me and Mary Jane’ and ‘White Trash Millionaire’.
It is a sprawling but considered set, they slow things down with the open-hearted ‘My Last Breath’ and then get the crowd bouncing again with ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone’. In fact the only times the energy drops is during a couple of over-indulgent solos but it is a minor gripe on a night when BLACK STONE CHERRY proved that they absolutely belong in the big leagues.
If you think arena shows are the exclusive domain of nostalgia acts playing the old hits then BLACK STONE CHERRY will dissuade you of the notion, they are still very much a going concern and on this sort of form you can only see them getting bigger, better and more vital. It’s time to believe the hype.
Chris Robertson – Vocals/Guitar
Ben Wells – Guitar/Vocals
Jon Lawhorn – Bass/Vocals
John Fred Young – Drums
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