Black Stone Cherry + The Darkness - OVO Hydro 30th January 2023

01 Feb 2023

Black Stone Cherry + The Darkness - OVO Hydro 30th January 2023

Two titans of rock share a stage once more

British glam-rock royalty The Darkness and Kentucky-based blues rockers Black Stone Cherry brought their co-headline UK arena tour to a dreary Glasgow last Monday night, for their third show following successful nights in Liverpool and Cardiff.

If their own eccentric form of PR was anything to go by, we were in for quite an evening. In separate statements coming from The Darkness and Black Stone Cherry, we are told of a legendary and magical conjunction taking place ten years ago in Thetford Forest, where woodland creatures and cosmic wizards bore witness to some spectacular rock n roll chemistry. More than a decade later, the stars have aligned to allow these two titans of rock to share a stage once more.

The co-headline concert was held at the OVO Hydro, photo by Stewart Fullerton.

We kick off the spectacle with special guests Danko Jones, a punky Toronto-based three-piece fronted by the bands namesake. What were treated to is 30 minutes of energetic chord smashing, vein-popping vocals, and enough chaotic stage-hopping to make Angus Young tip his school cap in appreciation.

Danko Joness demeanour wouldnt feel out of place at Wrestlemania, as he barks to the crowd of his love for the fine city of Glass Cow (a recurring - but forgivable - mispronunciation that afflicts many a North American dialect). If anything, its clear that Mr. Jones loves what he does, and nobody can take that away from him.

Next up we have the mighty Darkness, whos stage entrance to Abbas Arrival serves as a shrewd reminder of the type of band The Darkness are and always have been. Resplendent in black fur coat, Justin Hawkins and co. flounce on stage, hammering out the first chords to (what else?) Welcome Tae Glasgae. Axl Rose and Slash, eat yer heart out.

The Darkness at OVO Hydro, photo by Stewart Fullerton

It doesnt take long for the pyrotechnics to kick in, with showers of sparks and plumes of flame interjecting finger-blistering guitar solos and trademark falsettos (Luckily the Hydro didnt suffer the same fate as Liverpools M&S Bank Arena, where a minor fire temporarily put a halt to proceedings).

In a setlist laden with classics such as Black Shuck and One Way Ticket, the Lowestoft foursome quickly have the crowd eating out the palm of their hand, the typically Glaswegian chorus of here we, here we, here we fucking go filling the interludes.

At the halfway point we see the most talented guitarist in the stadium “ Ian Softy Norfolk (one of their roadies) pick up the 12-string and join the band as Hawkins scuttles off stage for a quick costume change. He returns five minutes later, grinning from ear to ear in skin-tight, multicolour spandex just in time for the band to launch into Solid Gold “ a song with lyrics that will make you laugh, wince and sing along all at once. Its familiar territory for The Darkness, a band who feel most at home writing songs that are as ridiculous as they are catchy. One gig-goer behind me summed it up pretty succinctly: Theyre just a great fuck it band, arent they?

After a raucous rendition of Love Is Only a Feeling, superfan Marcus introduces the next song the first single off the debut album Permission To Land and Get Your Hands Off My Woman.

The Darkness at OVO Hydro, photo by Stewart Fullerton

By this point the audience are ready to erupt, and just as the band are about to belt out their most famous tune, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Hawkins pauses to insist that all phones be put away. Lets just enjoy the moment, together. Can we do that? Hawkins sighs, as hundreds of tiny lights start to blink out one by one. Once the chorus kicked in, it was clear that the Glasgow crowd had taken those words to heart, not a phone in sight. Bravo!

The final song “Growing On Me“ was the perfect closer. The extended guitar solo performed on the shoulders of one of The Darkness support team as he waded through the sea of fans was simply the cherry on top of a thoroughly spanked cake.

The final act of the evening, the spectacular Black Stone Cherry, seem to have read the room perfectly as they bulldozed their way onstage and pounded through their first three songs without so much as stopping for breath. The opener, Me and Mary Jane, followed by Burning and Again, has pockets of the audience bouncing, with frontman Chris Robertson and guitarist Ben Wells ripping through guitar licks and riffs with face melting precision. As the band address the howling mob of fans with a bellowing THANK YOU GLASGOW!, there can be no doubt that this is going to be a night to remember.

With seven studio albums to choose from, Black Stone Cherry arent short of material to fill their setlist. The band do an amazing job of pleasing fans young and old, with songs from their first and second albums as well as new material barely a couple of weeks old.

Soulcreek and Blind Man from Folklore and Superstition are played in succession and receive a monumental reaction, Robertsons infectious charisma as palpable as the delight these lads take in performing for the Scottish crowd. In fact, it was revealed that Scotland does have a special place in their hearts, as the Hydro was where they put on their very first headline show in 2014.

Black Stone Cherry at the OVO Hydro, photo by Stewart Fullerton

The aforementioned new material, Out of Pocket, is an instant classic, a rock anthem worthy of a stadium like this one, bringing the energy in the hall to a fever pitch. The only time it really subsides is during the ballad Things My Father Said, a heartfelt melody dedicated to the memory of Robertsons dad. The larger-than-life frontman displays a more vulnerable side at this stage of the night, confessing that crowds like this helping him sing this song has been a genuine healing process for him.

From one of the more sombre numbers in the Black Stone Cherry repertoire, the band manage to deftly switch it up with a thunderous rendition of White Trash Millionaire and Blame It on the Boom Boom, two incredibly fun fan-favourites, before closing the set with their very first single (and one of their best tunes) Lonely Train.

Black Stone Cherry at the OVO Hydro, photo by Stewart Fullerton

Of course, it wouldnt be a Glasgow gig if the strangled yells of WAN MAIR CHOON werent answered in some fashion, and the Kentucky boys didnt disappoint. Before sending us all off to our beds, we were treated to their brilliant version of Electric Light Orchestras Dont Let Me Down, recorded for the 2020 album The Human Condition. A terrific end to a terrific night.

You can view a full photo gallery of the co-headline performance via the link below.

Click here

Review by Fraser Doig, Photography by Stewart Fullerton.


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Review - Black Stone Cherry + The Darkness - OVO Hydro 30th January 2023 - Glasgowmusic.co.uk