(Photo credit: Eric Duvet)
Black Country Communion | Eventim Apollo | 4 January 2018
Black Country Communion, Glenn Hughes reminds a packed Eventim Apollo, began after he and guitarist Joe Bonamassa performed together at Los Angeles’ House of Blues back in 2009.
Enlisting drummer Jason Bonham and keyboard player Derek Sherinian, the quartet released three albums in as many years, until the wheels came off.
“One day I woke up and decided to be an asshole,” Bonamassa admits tonight during the band’s second live show since reforming. But as the quartet storm through a set drawn primarily from their first two self-titled LPs and last year’s seismic ‘BCCIV’, the hatchet seems well and truly buried.
Clearly united by mutual respect, and an obvious love of performing these songs, the four musicians play with all the power and passion of a new band, the precision of experience, and the presence of rock gods.
The mesmerising ‘Sway’ from the new album sets the scene. Hughes, clearly invigorated by the success of his rock-heavy solo album ‘Resonate’, is every inch a Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Not only living up to his reputation as “the voice of rock”, his aggressive bass playing rivals Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris. And when he’s not planted at the mic, Hughes moves around the stage as if he owns the place.
Sherinian, nestled between two banks of keyboards, plays with all the dexterity and flair of someone who was once in Dream Theater. Jason Bonham is as hypnotic a player as his surname might suggest, but there are many sides to the hard-hitting drummer: while he positively swings on ‘Sway’ and demolishes on ‘The Outsider’, ‘Cold’ is all about subtlety.
And Bonamassa, looking relaxed stage right, is clearly as happy as he says to be reunited with “three of the best musicians I’ve ever played with”, whether he’s laying down a chunky riff or flying through a high speed solo. And when he takes over lead vocals later, on the sweeping ‘Song Of Yesterday’ and ‘The Last Song For My Resting Place’ in particular, there’s a sense that he feels free to add more grit to his performance than he might during a solo show.
All four performers get the chance to truly show off their hard rock credentials on chest-thumping companion pieces ‘The Crow’ and ‘Black Country’. The former, a true earthshaker from ‘BCCIV’, and the latter, the mission statement that opened their debut album, are both complex, shifting, thunderous epics that only work because the players are so skilled.
Those skills return to the spotlight time and time again, but never more so than during the soulful rendition of ‘Mistreated’ that wraps up the show. While Hughes sings like he might have during his original Deep Purple audition, Bonamassa either echoes his phrasing on guitar or reels off Richie Blackmore-inspired riffs without blinking, Sherinian channels his inner Jon Lord, and Bonham truly lives up to his Black Country roots. And all the while, they – and the audience – look like they’re having the time of their lives. Music, as Hughes likes to say, truly is the healer.