Black Country Communion at Hammersmith Apollo
The hard-rocking English-American supergroup, formed in California in 2009, initially called it a day in 2013 before reuniting last year and releasing their fourth studio album, BCCIV, in September. They performed tracks from it – as well as select cuts from their back catalogue – on Thursday, 4th January at Hammersmith Apollo.
Starting at 8pm with “no interval and no support” (why can’t all gigs be like that? – It would certainly see fewer people running to catch their last train), the band played for two hours and showcased throughout their amazing virtuosity on their chosen instruments.
Powerhouse drummer Jason Bonham is the son of the late John Bonham, drummer of Led Zeppelin, referred to by singer/bass player Glenn Hughes as “the greatest rock drummer there ever was or will be”. That said, Hughes had nothing but praise for Bonham Jr, saying that sometimes he turns around on stage and could be forgiven for thinking that “Bonzo” himself was behind him.
Hughes spoke of the quartet’s friendship and of the joy of working with such gifted musicians, a statement echoed by red-hot guitarist Joe Bonamassa, who said that Hughes, Bonham and lightning-fast keyboard player Derek Sherinian are three of the finest talents he’s ever played with. Bonamassa also confessed to being the reason why the group disbanded in 2013.
With police-style searchlights engulfing the stage to the sound of the explosive drum intro from Big Train, the rockers launched into opening number Sway, a heart-pounding track off their latest LP. This was followed by One Last Soul, a song with a great chorus from their 2010 self-titled debut.
“I love this town and I love this country,” exclaimed Staffordshire-born Hughes, who had Union flags sewn into the sleeves of his black jacket. The long-haired “voice of rock”, a member of Deep Purple from 1973 to 1976, thanked the crowd for their support and, more importantly, for continuing to get behind rock music. Hughes regularly belied his 66 years by showing off his phenomenal vocal range, as well as his stunning ability on the four-string.
Although their collective gifts cannot be denied, some of the tracks were a little overlong and quite average compared to others. Of particular note were the reflective, Zeppelin-esque Song of Yesterday, the intensely groovy This Is Your Time and the fantastic tune that first got this reviewer into the band some seven years ago, Man in the Middle.
It’s also worth mentioning The Last Song for My Resting Place, a well-crafted track that saw iconic Irish multi-instrumentalist Gerry O’Connor come out and play the mandolin and fiddle, just as he did on the new record.
Despite a few lacklustre moments, it was a privilege to witness these amazing artists and friends do their thing in person.
Photos: Christie Goodwin
For further information and future events, visit the Black Country Communion website here.
Watch the video for The Last Song For My Resting Place here: