Black Country Communion are the critically acclaimed Anglo/American rock supergroup who are in Wolverhampton tonight for their first complete live performance.
Black Country Communion consists of Cannock born vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes of Trapeze, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, award-winning blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham (son of legendary Led Zeppelin John Bonham) and Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Their debut album ‘Black Country’ scored a hat-trick upon the first week of release by charting at number 13 in the Official UK Album Chart, number 1 in the Official UK Rock Album Chart, and number 2 in the Official UK Independent Album Chart.
Tonight, playing their first concert in the heart of the Black Country, they hit the stage in front of 3,000 people at the legendary Wolverhampton Civic Hall. Opening to ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ Black Country Communion thunder into the album’s title track, with the Wolverhampton crowd proudly and joyfully joining Glenn Hughes for the chorus line: “I am a messenger, this is my prophecy … I’m going back to the Black Country”.
Followed by ‘One Last Soul’ and ‘Beggarman’ the band rip through a set which contains ten of the twelve tracks from the debut album. Hughes making quite clear his own “Voice of Rock” status with a phenomenal vocal range.
Throughout ‘The Revolution In Me’, ‘Down Again’, ‘Too Late For The Sun’ and ‘Song Of Yesterday’ vocals are switched and shared with Joe Bonamassa, who with a fantastic vocal style of his own – albeit not in Hughes’ league – is a blues guitar wizard with the required amount of rock prowess, all delivered in a sharp and stylish package.
Bonamassa‘s own ‘The Ballad of John Henry’ is followed by ‘The Great Divide’, before Hughes introduces ‘Medusa’ the title track from Trapeze‘s 1970 album. He states: “I had the very good fortune of playing this song with the greatest rock drummer of all time – John Bonham. And now I get to play it with his boy.”
The legacy of Led Zeppelin lives on in Dudley-born Jason Bonham, and further to Hughes’ emotional introduction, he accepts the appreciation shown to him and his father by the audience. Undoubtedly his dad would be proud of his performance tonight, inheriting the best of his skills, while mastering his own distinctive and dynamic technique.
Black Country Communion was never meant to be a power trio, so a decision to add former Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian was taken on the recommendation of producer Kevin Shirley. A version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’ showcases his skill, and his prominence is certainly more fulfilling in the live mix tonight than it is on the album.
Finishing with ‘Sista Jane’ and a reprise of ‘Black Country’, the Wolverhampton crowd are clearly very happy with their boys and “the two yanks” as Bonamassa and Sherinian are fondly referred to. A rousing Black Country encore sees them return for a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ before the foursome take to centre stage for enthusiastic approval.
With a second album and further UK tour dates due in 2011, Black Country Communion is the epitome of what classic rock should be – loud, proud, vibrant, fun and technically brilliant. Glenn Hughes reveals that they will “run and run for many years to come”, let’s hope this is the case.
Review & Photography: Steve Johnston