Black Stone Cherry brings an electrifying triple bill to the First Direct Arena in Leeds.

With a new Top 10 album under their belts in the shape of Family Tree, Black Stone Cherry along with label mates Monster Truck and southern fried trio The Cadillac Three arrives at the First Direct Arena in Leeds for the penultimate date of their current UK run.

With such a potent triple bill on display this evening, there is no time to spare. Canadian four-piece Monster Truck kick off the proceedings at the top of the night. The band released their third album, True Rockers earlier this year and never have truer words been said about the Ontario based four-piece.

The band’s high-energy set is packed full of arena-filling anthems. Monster Truck open with the emphatic title track of their latest offering. With True Rockers Monster Truck has really pushed their creative boundaries, and this has really paid off for the band. Songs like “Evolution” switches things up a bit with a more contemporary sounding hard rock number with mainstream appeal.

As Monster Truck heads into the final strides of their set, they unleash some of their earlier material, including the psychedelic “Sweet Mountain River” before closing with a groove-heavy airing of “The Lion”. The band make their mark in the 30 minutes allotted to them and for those left wanting more Monster Truck will be returning to the UK for a full arena tour in April.

Nashville based outfit The Cadillac Three delivered one of the standout albums of 2017 in the shape of Legacy. The group are back in the UK following a mainstage appearance at this summer’s Ramblin Man Fair.

TC3 proves to be the perfect precursor to tonight’s main event. From the moment the Tennessee based trio takes the stage, they have the crowd in the palms of their hands as they blast their way through back to back crowd-pleasers such as “Peace Love and Dixie”, “Rockin”, “Tennessee Mojo” and “Slide”.

Frontman Jaren Johnston has penned number one hits for country heavyweights such as Jake Owen, Keith Urban, Frankie Ballard and Billy Currington, to name but a few. Tonight, songs like the poetic “American Slang” and the beautiful “White Lightning” showcase Johnston’s world-class songwriting ability.

The Cadillac Three closes out their set with a perfectly fitting rendition of “The South”, during which all three members of the group congregated at the front of the stage, whilst rallying the crowd to sing along. Tonight, TC3’s distinctive blend of pedal steel infused, hard rocking Americana proves to be a big hit with the Yorkshire crowd.

Throughout their history, Black Stone Cherry has gone on to establish a strong connection with the UK, to the point where our small island has almost become a home away from home for the Kentucky based quartet. Tonight’s show in West Yorkshire comes hot on the heels of their main stage appearance as special guests to Guns N Roses at this year’s Download Festival.

Following a scene-setting video intro, Black Stone Cherry kick off their explosive performance (quite literally thanks to their on-stage CO2 cannons) with “Burnin’”, “Me and Mary Jane” and “Rain Wizard”. This forms somewhat of an impressive opening to their set.

When it comes to high energy shows, there are few who can surpass Black Stone Cherry. Guitarist Ben Wells covers every inch of the stage, as he leaps and kicks out whilst rocking out on his trusty Gibson Les Paul. Wells frequently switches sides of the stage with bass player Jon Lawhon. Likewise, powerhouse drummer John Fred Young beats his kit like it owes him money, and steals the spotlight mid-set with a relentless blues-harp infused solo spot.

Black Stone Cherry’s last two releases Family Tree and the Black To Blues EP highlight the diversity of their musical palette. After all, what’s the point of making the same record over and over again. Tracks such as the incredibly funky “James Brown”, the band’s groove-heavy take on Willie Dixon’s “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” along with new song “Ain’t Nobody” being a testament to this. During the latter of which, frontman Chris Robertson opens up the crowd in the centre of the room to orchestrate somewhat of an impromptu dance party.

Despite the emphasis on Family Tree, BSC gives the Yorkshire crowd a taste of back home with fan favourite “Soulcreek” before highlighting just how much the UK means to the band during “In My Blood” by way of a gargantuan Union Jack flag on display throughout the number. Likewise, Robertson sinks his heart and soul into an emotive airing of “Things My Father Said”.

As the band hurtle towards the finish line, BSC up the ante with a run of back to back anthems in the shape “Lonely Train”, “Blame It On The Boom Boom”, “White Trash Millionaire” before the band bring the show full circle with the title track to their latest record Family Tree.

Tonight’s twenty song setlist truly chronicles the evolution of Black Stone Cherry’s sound as well as firmly representing their roots and influences. Things just keep on getting bigger and better for the Kentucky based hard rockers. Following the band’s first UK arena tour they will return to the UK next year for one of their biggest outdoor headline concerts at the medieval Caerphilly Castle in Wales.

Black Stone Cherry
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Event Date: 13-Dec-2018

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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