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O2 Academy, Liverpool 15 March 2012

Black Stone Cherry, photo by Steve Goudie

Black Stone Cherry's aces are displayed face up on The River right now and there's not a player this side of Edmonton Kentucky that can argue with the obvious assertion that they are the best rock band in the world right now.

Did I just say that? Have I been plied with Kentucky bourbon in the backstage party? More on my insanity in a moment's time. But first on stage was blues based rock band from Long Island, Rival Sons. What a double bill! In a manner of minutes, the band had us in the palms of their hands.

Rival Sons, photo by Steve Goudie

A man of few words in between songs, Jay Buchanan cuts a dash of a young Ozzy Osborne but the voice. Oh the voice. While we are on the inevitable comparisons with days of yore, how does a cross between Robert Plant and Chris Cornell grab you?

Well it grabbed this punter by the scruff of his hoodie and flung his skittish remarks about guitarist Scott Holiday resembling Derek Smalls where the sun don't shine. And the songs were none too shabby either. Check out 'Pressure and Time' and then come back to me on my GRTR! Show and inform me I was wrong.

Rival Sons, photo by Steve Goudie

Hopefully a couple more festivals and this tour will propel them, as has happened to Black Stone Cherry, to the status of headline tour. On this evidence Rival Sons deserve to be in your ears right now. If you can't buy the gig don't steal the music. Bands with talent like this deserve a living.

Best band in the world eh? Black Stone Cherry? Is there a catch. No. It's like this really. I decided around song three 'Blind Man' that I would take my camera from around my shoulders and let Steve Goudie capture the moments while I looked on in awe at the sheer energy that BSC ripped into songs like 'Soulreek' and 'White Trash Millionaire.'

Black Stone Cherry, photo by Steve Goudie

Chris Robertson is such an unlikely front man. Looking like he is just about to fix your carburettor for $50 somewhere on the old Route 66, Robertson instead rips out your heart with a vocal delivery that tonally straddles grunge and hard rock.

There's the rub. Robertson's vocals could not be applied elsewhere because they complement Ben Well's searing guitar style so well that removing one of the would be criminal, like taking twins from their brothers.

The rhythm section is no less vital . John Fred's drumming provides such a backdrop that you simply don't need any high faultin' video screens taking your attention away. John Lawhon plays less like a bass player and more like a lead guitarist. I had to look twice as to who was holding the bong notes.

Black Stone Cherry, photo by Steve Goudie

It would be tempting to draw comparisons with the Skynyrds and the Hatchets but that would be disingenuous. In a review full of analogies, I will leave this southern metaphors up to you to explain to friends what they are missing. Best course of action is throw your money into the ring though and discover that these boys are playing their own card game and not looking over somebody else's shoulders.

The packed 1200 capacity 02 Academy audience which consisted of older rockers with their kids, young guns of both sexes tended to agree with me. The chant of 'BSC' was coming from the back of the hall as well as the front.

I could go on but I won't because it's been said and I need to get to the end of this review before I change my mind. Having seen them three times now, I doubt it. Fantastic.

Review by Keith Thompson

Keith presents 'Rockwaves', Sundays 21:00 on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

Photos by Steve Goudie

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