Black Country Communion: Eventim Apollo (formerly Hammersmith Odeon), London, 4th January 2018

liz medhurst
Words: Liz Medhurst Photos: Eric Duvet and Christie Goodwin
5th January 2018

black country communion

It's four days into a new year and the bar hasn't been raised, it's been smashed to smithereens and pounded into oblivion. Black Country Communion are so good, if the authorities found out they would probably declare them illegal.

What a return; six years on from 'Afterglow' the quartet returned with 'BCCIV', an album every bit as good as the previous three, if not better. This is a good thing as we were treated to six tracks from it during the well over two-hour long show.

From the very start with the intro of air raid sirens and the machine gun riff of 'Big Train' the band showed that they were not here to fuck around, but to blast us with the highest quality hard rock you will find anywhere in the galaxy.

black country communion

The roars as Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham took to the hallowed ground of the Hammy O stage showed how much the words "highly anticipated" didn't even come close to the expectations – all of which were exceeded.

The combination of four musicians at the top of their game doesn't always automatically work and just because the elements are all super talented it doesn't always follow that it will gel together, especially with such large characters.

Here it does, and that explains the dismay when the group disbanded and the delight when they got back together.

black country communion

There was an additional air of specialness as due to the commitments of the band members' other projects only two gigs were scheduled, here and two days previously in Wolverhampton, the homecoming to the Black Country itself for Glenn and Jason.

There truly was not a low point in the entire gig, and far too many highlights to name in completion – purchasing of the DVD which was filmed tonight is essential.

From the heavy groove of 'Sway', right the way through, we witnessed first hand how they really do bring out the best in each other. Joe lets loose a bit with freedom to blast out blistering solos, Jason's powerhouse drumming finds a natural home and Derek's keyboard playing is masterful.

black country communion

Those who saw Glenn's solo dates last year, on the back of solo album 'Resonate', know just what top form he is in, musically and vocally, and that continues here.

This is a band performance, not a solo act, and Black Country Communion looked and acted like a band, stressed how much they all were friends and indeed there was no sign of protesting too much.

Throughout the gig there was honesty and authenticity, so much so that Joe, when explaining why the band wasn't active for the past six years, simply saying "because I woke up one day and decided to be an asshole".

black country communion

All forgiven now and bigger and better than ever. The driving rhythm of 'Wanderlust' conjured up a road trip of adventures, the emotion of 'Cold' was heartfelt while the epic 'Song Of Yesterday' was everything and more.

Talking of epic, what a delight to hear 'The Last Song For My Resting Place', from 'BCCIV'. The Joe classic was brought to life with s special guest appearance from Gerry O'Connor from the Dubliners on fiddle and mandolin, effortlessly switching between the two.

The mark of a good epic is that you can not only take the story telling as intended, but also discover your own deeper meaning, as is the case here, as I found myself bellowing out "I believe in love and you need to know that my heart's in your embrace".

black country communion

'The Crow' is another example of the brilliance of the current material. Referencing the band logo, Glenn describes writing the song as trying to get the "insane, frantic" vibe, and it really does, with the interlinking riffs and beats at the start, before settling into an intense pulse.

The energy was off the scale too - 140 minutes of pretty much non-stop action and not broken up with extended soloing to facilitate necessary mid-set breaks; none of that nonsense here at all.

With Glenn wearing his hair longer these days there were flashbacks to his Purple days, and in Joe he has found a fellow vocalist who, as with Coverdale, is different and complimentary.

black country communion

Maybe Glenn felt this too as he introduced Man In The Middle with "'Ere's a song for ya!", then looked surprised saying, "I've never said that before".

The main set ended with the driving beats of that song and 'Black Country', and then we were treated to an immense three song encore, culminating in an otherworldly version of 'Mistreated', another awe-inspiring moment, just when you think you've heard all definitive versions of this song.

black country communion

I was counting the days to this gig, and I'm re-setting the clock to wait for the DVD release. Black Country Communion were more than worth the wait, but please for the love of Odin come back soon.

This gig would have scored twelve pints out of ten but we didn't have enough clean glasses left after the post gig celebrations.

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One Last Soul
Save Me
Song Of Yesterday
The Outsider
This Is Your Time
The Battle For Hadrian's Wall
The Crow
Over My Head
The Last Song For My Resting Place
Man In the Middle
Black Country





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