BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION
The Depot, Salt Lake City, UT June 11th, 2011
“We’re a new band,” said singer Glenn Hughes from the stage of The Depot in Salt Lake City. “We’ve only been together a year and already have two albums out with our first going to number one in the UK.” Black Country Communion are more than a super group, more than a ‘70s throw-back, they are a phenomenon! The group was formed in January 2010 after Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) and Joe Bonamassa (Bloodline, Solo) started writing together. Due to the suggestion of producer Kevin “Caveman” Shirley, they added drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, UFO, Foreigner) and keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Dream Theater). “The combination can only be described as magical and exhilarating,” Hughes told us before the show. “I feel my time has finally come with this band. We are like brothers and the music that pours from us is so honest.” There is an undeniable spark within BCC and it translates into their writing and recording, which is done very quickly. “In the seventies we would do two records a year and tour non-stop,” says Hughes. “It kept us sharp and focused no time to get lazy.”
With little too no time between projects, BCC only did three live shows in 2010. This year their schedule includes eight shows in the US before going over to Europe for a full 25 dates including a number of festivals. Luckily, we were able to catch them in SLC for what can only be described as a revelation. There was no opening act, leaving the night open for the band to stretch out. The four stepped on the stage under blue lights to the theme of Star Wars and cheers of a sold out crowd. Bonham and Sherinian wore traditional black with Bonamassa in a white western collar shirt and Hughes in dark purple velvet. “Black Country” erupted out of the Marshals with Hughes playing his bass as agile and intense as a man half his age. The song is a call-to-arms steeped in the tradition of majestic songwriting. It translates live like a sonic bomb that caused the audience to take one step back and marvel at the shear power of the group. It carried through to the Zeppelin-like single “One Last Soul” which embraces classic rock roots and a sense of pop flare.
“We wanted to have two albums to choose from before we took our full show on the road,” says Hughes from the stage. “How do you like this one?” The balladry keyboard intro of “Crossfire” from disc two filled the hall proving Sherinian can step into Jon Lord territory with attitude and an awe-inspiring presence. In fact, the ex-Dream Theater player has a much bigger spotlight throughout BCC II moving the band closer to that ‘big’ organ sound of the early ‘70s. Bonham got his turn as the band featured his original composition “Save Me” - also giving Bonamassa one of his more emotional vocal performances of the night. A well balanced set had the guitarist playing a double-neck electric acoustic (a-la-Page) in the spine-tingling “The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall.” His Hendrix freak flag got the audience bouncing in “Beggarman” and his love of Paul Kossoff amplified “Faithless.” Bombastic, beefy and a little cliché were “Smokestack Woman” and “The Big Divide,” both paying tribute to the individual band member’s legacy.
Surprisingly, Bonamassa brought out “The Ballad of John Henry” a true original masterpiece, which fit perfectly in the set. One of the most enjoyable elements of BCC is the amazing combination of the Hughes / Bonamassa duet. The Free-inspired, “Song of Yesterday” was stunning as the band allowed it to naturally grow into a massive slab of Tyrannosaurus rock. The song was made for the big stage and almost blew the roof off the place. A ballsy “The Outsider” and the melodic “Sista Jane” stuck like glue with Hughes proving to be a man on fire and a genuine rock star. Current single “Man in the Middle” benefited from a sharp-witted rap that’s part “Walk This Way” and part “Kashmir,” leaving us with the memorable line, “You’re a rock and roll star with a killer condition.” Black Country Communion closed with a scorching version of Deep Purple’s “Burn,” a fitting way to end the night. On paper these guys look promising but “live” they transcend all preconceived notions. In the wake of the evening’s performance they leave behind hardcore worshipers and a dedicated fan base that believe these are the saviors of rock and roll. A rock and roll band made for rock and roll fans.
Website: Black Country Communion