Black Country Communion - LIVE: Hammersmith Apollo, London 2018

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BCCIV World Tour
January 4 (20:00 - 22:00)
Capacity 5,000

This night at Hammersmith Apollo was the second of a two-show test event for Black Country Communion. It's over six years since they last played in the capital, so on the back of a very well-received fourth album, and before embarking on any more serious touring, they needed to warm up a bit with a couple of exclusive shows (the other was in Wolverhampton two days prior).

The other thing they were testing was whether their fans really would, in significant numbers, pay twice the asking price to see them, than they paid six years ago. The answer for a limited engagement such as this was an unequivocal "yes". Tickets sales may have been a bit more sluggish than normal judging by the need for posters at nearby London Underground stations, but by the time the gigs came around, both were nearly sold out, and all the fans in attendance were ecstatic to see the band again.

"We last did this band about six years ago, then I woke up one day and decided to be a big asshole and it all stopped," half-joked guitar hero Joe Bonamassa when he took a turn speaking at the mic, fully aware that the majority of the public held him responsible for the band's breakup, and for some the sudden demise after the release of their third album in 2011 was until now the lasting memory of BCC. Most genuinely thought it was the end as well, and the four musicians would never reconcile. The news in 2017 of new album BCCIV therefore, was a most welcome surprise.

Back on stage then, the playing and delivery of what is now a fairly sizeable collection of songs was like they'd never even stopped. Amidst by far their slickest live production to date, and the best sound mix they've achieved on a London stage so far too - which meant keyboard extraordinaire Derek Sherinian could be heard for perhaps the first time - and let themselves loose on what could be argued was a "greatest hits" set.

The best of the new album (particularly Collide) fits seamlessly alongside fan favourites like a heavier take on One Last Soul, Man In The Middle, and Black Country, tied together by countless intros, outros, fills, and solos. And therein lies the real attraction of this band. As well as the novelty of seeing bluesman-by-day Joe Bonamassa tear through some true rock solos (which is, in truth, significantly more entertaining), it is that kind of of effortless chemistry that only the musicians with a deep understanding of their craft can manage which captivates audiences; because Black Country Communion isn't just a super-group of famous musicians, it's a super-group of supremely talented musicians - who happen to be pretty famous.

The band were genuinely thankful to the bumper crowd for returning to them after a length period on the sidelines, and took several opportunities to tell them so, but it would be wrong for them to keep talking about the unifying power of rock 'n' roll music, while charging such exclusive prices. For a couple of special warm-up shows, and the first in a long time, is one thing. If they have any intention to undertake more regular touring (and maybe they don't, maybe rare appearances are the way of things now), they'll need to be more realistic, because their playing and music is the real deal, not something commercial and superficial, and the kind of pure rock 'n' roll they espouse is an inclusive pursuit.

Setlist: Sway / One Last Soul / Save Me / Wanderlust / Song of Yesterday / The Outsider / This Is Your Time / Cold / The Battle for Hadrian's Wall / The Crow / Over My Head / The Last Song For My Resting Place / Man In The Middle / Black Country // Collide / Faithless / Mistreated

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2018, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock, , ,

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