Over time Kentucky rockers Black Stone Cherry have grown from a bunch of relatively unknown rockers into fully confirmed stars capable of filling headline slots at festivals and, as their last couple of tours have proved, holding their own on UK arena headline tours. So, as we roll towards the release of their new album Kentucky, the band take the chance to shake off the studio cobwebs and road test some of their new material.
In doing so they bring with them an impressive supporting cast for the ‘Carnival Of Madness’ tour with the bill being opened by Massachussets hard rockers Highly Suspect. Afforded only a short time on stage, the quartet don’t have much time to mess around so smash through their set with a brazen, cocksure attitude that wins them over a fair few fans from the early birds in the venue.
Attitude is most definitely a word that sits comfortably in the same sentence as Halestorm. Fronted by Lzzy Hale, a vocalist with a gargantuan personality, it might be a shitty winter night outside but inside the First Direct Arena, Halestorm turn the temperature dial up a degree or two with their bruising hard rock. While the Lzzy is undoubtedly the focal point of the band, it’s hard not to give a shout out to her brother Arjey on drums who, despite being restricted behind his kit on a riser at the back of the stage, puts in a stellar performance.
With songs like the enormous power ballad “Second Chance” Shinedown have enough of a catalogue now to have earned a high slot on this bill. Big arenas demand big songs and, as proved with hit single “Second Chance” and hard-hitters “Enemies”, Shinedown have plenty of those in their armoury. Furthermore, like Lzzy Hale in Halestorm, in Brent Smith Shinedown have a frontman who commands your attention both visually and vocally.
So to the big finale and headliners Black Stone Cherry. Yes, they may have been holed up a studio for the last however long fine-tuning their upcoming album Kentucky however there is very little rust showing by the time the band rock up in Leeds towards the end of this tour. About as stereotypically American hard rock as you can get, the Kentucky outfit simple epitomise everything about hard rock. They’ve got inexhaustible amounts of energy, they’re bags of fun to watch live and while there may be very little in the way of stage show to talk of, songs like “Rain Wizard”, “Blame It On The Boom Boom” and “Lonely Train” do enough of the talking to guarantee every pound you spent on your ticket was a pound well spent.