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Black Stone Cherry, The Darkness and Danko Jones Bring the Boom to Leeds First Direct Arena [Photos]

Black Stone Cherry and The Darkness brought a proper rock show to Leeds on Friday night. Check out the review and photos here.



Black Stone Cherry live at Leeds First Direct Arena by Graham Finney Photography

It feels like ages since we’ve had a proper rock ‘n’ roll tour in the UK and I don’t count the recent Evanescence/Within Temptation extravaganza in that category either. I’m talking about a proper foot-on-the-monitor, fist in the air, sweat, grooves and massive songs rock show. So, who better to bring the boom to Leeds than Black Stone Cherry and The Darkness?

Kicking off the night was Canadian hard rockers Danko Jones who blitzed through their eight-song set early doors to a small but ready-to-rock crowd. By the time the lights dimmed an hour later and Lowestoft rock favourites The Darkness strutted out and into opener “Growing On Me” in front of a sparkling pyro “waterfall,” you could see that they weren’t here just to provide background noise until the headliners.

“Black Shuck” continued the set providing four and a half minutes of mane-loosening rock to a backdrop of eyebrow-singing flames. Of course, the star of the show was frontman Justin Hawkins who strutted about the stage like he owned the place. Top off for “Motorheart” and every rockstar pose you could think of, Hawkins is a man made to be on stages like this one.

To his right his brother Dan cranks out the riffs while bassist Frankie Poullain brings some glamour to proceedings. In their early days, few people took The Darkness seriously but, as “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” and “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” threaten to bring the house down, Lowestoft’s finest have shown they’re very much past being labelled a novelty act.

It would be fair to say that, at this stage in their careers, very few people come to a Black Stone Cherry show expecting surprises. The Kentucky rockers don’t really do surprises. What people come to a Black Stone Cherry show for is to rock the fuck out and that’s exactly what they get to do tonight.

As Sam Smith’s hit “Unholy” rings out around the room, Leeds is ready to rock with the Kentucky band. Cranked up to eleven and hittin’ the stage swingin’ with opener “Me and Mary Jane,” Black Stone Cherry are here to shake Leeds to its foundations.

Taking time out to address the crowd, high-kicking guitarist Ben Wells roars “every time we come to the UK we tell them make sure we play in Leeds…,” which gets an appreciative response back from this crowd. Along with bassist Steve Jewell, the pair make use of every inch of the stage while frontman Chris Robertson delivers anthems like “Again” and “Blame It On The Boom Boom” from front and centre. Now, should your eyes stray behind Robertson, you’ll find the blur of hair and drumsticks that is John Fred Young pounding out a pure rock beat behind him.

With all this constant chatter that rock is dead, it’s heart-warming to see a tour like this one doing so well and giving fans exactly what they want. Black Stone Cherry isn’t about big, over-the-top productions and stupid gimmicks. A Black Stone Cherry show is like a really homely meal from your mum. You know what is going to be on the table when you arrive, you’ll savour every minute of it and you will not leave disappointed.

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.