The Carnival of Madness made a stop at the Kentucky State Fair last Friday night. This concert featured new comers Emphatic, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge and Theory of a Deadman. Unlike the east coast that was getting hammered with high speed winds and torrential rainfall from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, it was a perfect night for a rock show in Louisville, Ky. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The show started like clock work and every band pretty much started at their scheduled time.
Emphatic took the stage at promptly at 6:30, and the first thing I noticed is they had a different singer. I saw Emphatic earlier this year at the Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville, KY, and met their singer Patrick Wilson after the show. I wondered all night what had happened to Patrick. Thanks to HRH reader Shaylee, I found out that Emphatic’s singer Patrick Wilson was unable to tour with the Emphatic due to an injury to his vocal chords. Grant Kendrick from the Omaha, NE band, The Wreckage is filling in for Patrick while he heals. To my ears, Kendrick is doing a fine job. Emphatic played several songs off of their newly released self titled CD including: “Do I”, “Get Paid”, “Beg”, “Put Down The Drink”, “Original Sin” and my personal favorite, “Bounce”.
Las Vegas, Nevada’s Adelitas Way was the second act on the Carnival of Madness bill. This was the first time I have seen Adelitas Way perform live. I didn’t have any expectations for this band, and I liked their tunes quite a bit. They played songs from their self titled CD, as well as their new disc Home School Valedictorian. Judging from the tunes they played Friday night, I am going to have to break their CD’s out and give them another listen. They performed a tight set, and were pretty good, however neither Emphatic or Adelitas Way could even come close to the performance put on by Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry.
The Kentucky State Fair was a home coming performance for Black Stone Cherry. They were the headliner at the Kentucky State Fair one year ago, and quite honestly, I thought they should have been again in 2011. Black Stone Cherry put on a high energy set which included their songs,”Maybe Someday”, “Blame in on the Boom Boom”, “White Trash Millionaire”, “Blind Man”, and “Lonely Train”. They were excellent, and a whole lot of fun to watch. I wish they could have played longer. I have seen BSC perform several times over the years, and they never disappoint. They were easily the highlight of this Carnival of Madness concert.
The last time I saw Alter Bridge perform was in 2008, so I they were the second band that I was looking forward to most on this night. Myles Kennedy and company did not disappoint. Their set included the songs: ”Slip to the Void”, “Find the Real”, “White Knuckles”, “Ghost of Days Gone By”, “Ties That Bind”, “Blackbird”, “Come To Life”, “Isolation” and “Rise Today”. The last time I saw Alter Bridge, I remember them being good, but they left a much bigger impression on me this time. Mark Tremonti was excellent on lead guitar all night. Myles Kennedy got to show off his guitar playing prowess, when he traded off guitar solos with Tremonti. I had no idea that Myles Kennedy was THIS good of a guitar player. Who Knew? I hope I can see Alter Bridge again, when they can play a longer set. Their performance was second only to Black Stone Cherry on this evening.
I must admit that I haven’t had a lot of love for Theory of a Deadman over the years. Every time I have seen them live, they have been disappointing at best. On Friday night, they surprised me. They sounded and performed better than any other time I have seen them. Singer Tyler Connolly did his best to interact with the crowd (and not look at his shoes). While I still didn’t think Theory of a A Deadman had a lot of energy, I thought their were much better than I have seen them previously. I don’t know if having Black Stone Cherry and Alter Bridge open up for them puts more pressure on T.O.A.D., but they definitely brought their “A” game to the old Cardinal Stadium. Theory of a Deadman performed their songs “Gentlemen”, “Got it Made”, “All or Nothing”, “So Happy”, “Bitch Came Back”,”Not Meant To Be”, “Lowlife”, their cover of the J.J. Cale classic “Cocaine”, “Bad Girlfriend” and more.
If you take one thing from this review, take this, go see the Carnival of Madness on one of the remaining dates. It is well worth your hard earned cash, and is fun night of rock and roll.
The following dates remain in the 2011 Carnival of Madness:
Thursday, September 1 Allentown, PA The Great Allentown Fair
Saturday, September 3 Hampton Beach, NH Hampton Beach Casino
Wednesday, September 7 Baltimore, MD Pier Six Concert Pavilion
Friday, September 9 Big Flats, NY Tag’s Summer Stage
Saturday, September 10 Atlantic City, NJ House of Blues
Sunday, September 11 Huntington, WV Harris Riverfront Park
Tuesday, September 13 Charlotte, NC Time Warner Cable Uptown Amp.
Wednesday, September 14 Fayetteville, NC Crown Coliseum
Friday, September 16 Tulsa, OK Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino
Saturday, September 17 Poplar Bluff, MO Black River Coliseum
Sunday, September 18 Dayton, Oh Montgomery County Fairgrounds
How is it that a CD can make me smile and scream at the same time? I have been waiting for May 31st to come around for quite a while. I have been quite anxious to hear Black Stone Cherry’s third effort, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Let me preface this review by stating that I am a big Black Stone Cherry fan. I have been from the beginning, and probably always will be.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a very good CD, however I feel like the band’s latest effort has been Bensonized. What does that mean? Howard Benson is the producer on this CD. He has produced CD’s for many successful modern rock acts including Saliva, Seether, Three Days Grace and many more. The problem being is that Black Stone Cherry has never been a 100% Modern rock band. On their past releases, they have had one foot in the Southern Rock camp, and the other in modern rock. It is the blend of these two sounds that makes their sound a unique one, and makes Black Stone Cherry one of the more interesting bands to come along in the last 5 years. With that being said, Howard Benson has pushed Black Stone Cherry’s sound more towards the modern side, and I couldn’t be more frustrated. The mix on this record has Ben Wells guitar work practically mixed out of existence. It sounds like the Marshall stacks are set on 10 for the bass and 6 for the guitars. Ben is one hell of a guitar player, and when he does cut loose on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, he shines. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to do so anywhere near enough. With no disrespect to the bass playing Jon Lawhon, he does a fine job, but this CD sounds as if Benson tried to modernize Black Stone Cherry’s sound more down the well beaten and tired path of Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman and Saving Abel. The whole down tuned guitar thing is WAY overdone. Quite frankly, Black Stone Cherry is a much better band than this, and deserved much better from the production and mixing side. Oddly enough, the Clear Channel family of radio stations will probably eat this up, and this could be Black Stone Cherry’s most successful CD to date.
Ok, now that I have gotten that off of my chest, aside from the production qualities of this CD, I do like Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. There are plenty of cool songs worth checking out, from “White Trash Millionaire”(see video below), “Blame It On the Boom Boom”, the future hit “In My Blood” the cover of the Marshall Tucker Band song “Cant You See”, the future stripper anthem, “Let Me See You Shake” and “Like I Roll” are amongst my favorites.
Lzzy Hale from Halestorm sings back up vocals on the CD, and does a great job. Her voice is very good pairing for Chris Robertson. I would love to see these two do a duet on a future BSC or Halestorm song. I can’t say enough good things about Chris Robertson on this disc. His voice IS the most powerful instrument to be found on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and he has never sounded better than he does here.
Don’t let my mini rant scare you away from Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea, this is a very good CD, and maybe Black Stone Cherry’s best yet. With a little bit of tweaking it could have been even better.
Rating: Out of 10
1. White Trash Millionaire
2. Killing Floor
3. In My Blood
4. Such A Shame
5. Won’t Let Go
6. Blame It on the Boom Boom
7. Like I Roll
8. Can’t You See
9. Let Me See You Shake
12. All I’m Dreamin’ Of
Black Stone Cherry is:
Chriss Robertson – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Ben Wells – Guitar
Jon Lawhon – Bass Guitar
John Fred Young – Drums