Black Stone Cherry: Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK Review: An Enjoyable Performance in Spite of the Low Vocals

Recorded October 30, 2014 on their Magic Mountain tour, the four-man band from Kentucky brought their brand of hard southern rock to England. The concert featured 20 songs picked from each of their four studio albums.

The show was high energy, featuring a straight-forward performance with a minimal amount of visual effects and stage decoration. There’s a giant drop cloth behind the band with mountain scenery sketched on it. The only other extras on the stage are two short tables that the guitarists used to stand on giving them a little more elevation for the audience to be able to see them.

With such a minimalistic amount of visuals, you are left to focus just on the quality of the performance, and it was good and fun to watch. The music was cohesive and tight. There were no obvious mistakes and the songs had a good hard-rock base accompanied with a nice melody. However, there were two issues that ran throughout the concert and both of them had to do with the quality of the vocal tracks.

Chris Robertson has a very powerful voice that is suited for the style of music they play. But the problem was that they did not set the volume of his vocal tracks to the right level. The guitars and drums were drowning him out most of the time. It was most evident during the song “Fiesta Del Fuego” when Robertson was using the megaphone-sounding vocal effects, and you could barely understand what he was singing.

The other sound quality issue had to do with the volume of the audience. Most of the time, the crowd noise doesn’t matter, but when they were the only ones singing during large portions of songs, or in the case of “Things My Father Said” where the audience sings the entire song by themselves, it would have been nice to hear what they were singing. The band was very happy and appreciative that everyone knew all the words, but for someone who is just learning about the band and hearing their music for the first time is not going to enjoy those songs as much.

The Blu-ray is presented in 1080iHigh Definition Widescreen 16×9 (1.78:1) with a LPCM Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio. The majority of the time the video is sharp and makes good use of the media it is recorded on. But not all of the cameras used for filming are high-definition quality, leaving some grainy pictures when cameras tucked away behind the scenes or attached to the drum set are used. Those cameras are not used very often and really have no adverse effect to the enjoyment of the concert. While the audio uses the surround sound quite well, the vocal tracks were often overpowered by the music.

The Special Features include two songs recorded at the Download Festival in 2015, “Blame It On The Boom Boom” and “In My Blood”. While the songs are performed essentially the same as what was recorded in Birmingham, the vocals are at the appropriate level making the song much more enjoyable. There is also a Download Festival Interview with lead singer / lead guitarist Chris Robertson and guitarist Ben Wells. While the interview is dominated mostly by Robertson’s responses, the interview is very candid, honest, and interesting.

Along with the Blu-ray, there is also a CD of the concert. The mix of the vocal tracks on the CD is low as well. Combined with way too much audience participation, which was also difficult to hear, and nothing visual to watch, listening to the CD alone is a frustrating experience.

Track list:

  1. Rain Wizard
  2. Blind Man
  3. Me & Mary Jane
  4. In My Blood
  5. Holding On…To Letting Go
  6. Maybe Someday
  7. Such a Shame
  8. Things My Father Said
  9. Fiesta Del Fuego
  10. Sunshine of Your Love
  11. Like I Roll
  12. Bad Luck and Hard Love
  13. Drum Solo
  14. Hollywood in Kentucky
  15. Hell and High Water
  16. Soul Creek
  17. White Trash Millionaire
  18. Blame It on the Boom Boom/Layla
  19. Peace Is Free
  20. Lonely Train (Can’t Judge a Book)
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Todd Karella

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