A very rare outing by supergroup Black Country Communion saw their congregation of fans witness a right holy racket tonight at The Hammersmith Apollo – The Mecca of all rock venues. 

As a bona fide supergroup, with a flock of fans that rejoice in their soulful hard rock, the calibre of musicianship on display was at times simply breathtaking. Whether that be Joe Bonamassa’s curlicues of noodling guitar, Glenn Hughes’ presence and that voice of rock, Jason Bonham’s pounding thump of drums or Derek Sherinian’s graceful glide of keyboards, they all massed together as one unit just as brilliant as their individual sum of parts.

With a recently released career-defining fourth album BCCIV and their best yet, to add to their already illustrious back catalogue, compiling a setlist must have been a combined work of art in itself.

And tonight proved that these modern classic hard rock songs still retain a shimmering luminosity about them when played live.

Alerting the massed faithful with a blaring air raid siren call, these seasoned board-treaders hit the stage blitzing a tight drill of sound on pure rock opener “Sway”. Before anyone could catch their breath “One Last Soul” with its soulful, hard rock higher calling purred out of the band’s superfine sound system. In fact, just seeing Glenn Hughes’ massed cabinets of Orange speakers and Joe Bonamassa’s Marshall stacks reminded where this band’s hard rock heart and soul beats.

Dressed in patriotic garb in a jacket with union Jack sleeves, Glenn Hughes played a blinder with his heart on his sleeve tonight. Constantly praising their congregation of fans for keeping rock music alive his voice seems to get better and better. His widescreen multi-octave range incredible voice seems to stretch like expanding elastic on the first epic song of the night “Save Me”, as Jason Bonham and Bonamassa played a tight groove with Derek Sherinian tinkling eastern inspired inflections throughout.

Notwithstanding that this was only the second gig the band has played together for six long years, what then ensued was a rock masterclass of the highest order with supreme ingredients. “Wanderlust” and “Song Of Yesterday” banged out like the Hammer of Thor. Equally, “The Outsider” hammered and hollered like a renegade pulling the rip on a hand grenade as guitar riff, drum boom and vocals exploded around the stage.

As the ante seemed to lower a little during the opening trill by Bonamassa on “The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall”, a tsunami of hard rock sound then spilled out of the speakers and flooded the unwary ears of the faithful as the song’s blistering sonic wail produced a fist thumping, headbanging frenzy as pints of beer were gladly spilled in this legendary rock hall of Valhalla.

But time seemed to stand still in magic reality with The Dubliners Gerry 0’Connor’s jaunty arrival to play mandolin and violin on Bonamassa’s set-piece “The Last Song For My Resting Place”. A bravura hard blues of solid rock that a master stonemason would have difficulty working as the band shaped up a dramatic finale.

But the final words must go the “Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes with a lung heaving, spotlight-grabbing vocal on “Black Country”. Never were words sung with as much passion and poignancy as “I am a messenger, this is my prophecy, I’m going back to the Black Country” with a dirty fuzz bass riff that makes grime sound polished.

A stonking encore of “Collide” and “Faithless” acted as musical curtains which opened to reveal a final piece de resistance of Deep Purple’s “Mistreated”. Bonamassa switched to a Fender Strat to play that awesome riff as Hughes almost lifted off the stage with his helium-filled vocal. 

With no drama or negativity, pushing themselves with positive energy to play better and better Black Country Communion simply brought out the best in each other tonight to everybody’s overall enrichment.

Words: Paul Davies / Exclusive images courtesy of Eric Duvet Photography.

Black Country Communion
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Event Date: 04-Jan-2018

About The Author

I began my career in journalism at the now defunct, pre-digital Smash Hits magazine, which was situated in London's Carnaby Street. After learning the ropes, I washed up at Vox Magazine, essentially the NME'S monthly magazine, as the Internet arrived into our lives. Thereon, I eventually graduated onto Q Magazine when people still treasured the magazine that they bought. My journalistic career since has been on newspapers at The Times, The Independent/i newspaper, Daily & Sunday Express and, ofcourse, National Rock Review.

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