Sunday, June 12, 2011

Black Country Communion rocks Anaheim

Black Country Communion, from left, includes keyboardist Derek Sherinian, Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Joe Bonamassa.

This review was originally posted on the Orange County Register Soundcheck blog on Saturday, June 11, 2011. The photos are used courtesy of Robert Steshetz.

Black Country Communion burns at the Grove

A chance to watch singer-guitarist Joe Bonamassa (right) perform is reason enough to get any fan of virtuoso fretwork out on a Friday night. But when one of the world’s best happens to be just another member of a hard-rocking supergroup — one that includes bassist-vocalist Glenn Hughes (of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath fame), drummer Jason Bonham (son of Bonzo) and one-time Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian — well, it’s just too good to be true when that lineup sets up shop in your backyard.

And so it was Friday night (June 10), as Black Country Communion headlined City National Grove of Anaheim before a near-capacity crowd, timed just before the release of the quartet’s sophomore effort, imaginatively titled 2 and expected in stores and online on Tuesday, June 14.

The group’s 16-song set was comprised mostly of original material, even if there is a good argument to be made that the sonic stamp of Led Zeppelin and Bon Scott-era AC/DC, not to mention Sabbath and Deep Purple, is all over their music. Yet, rather than be swept away by the nostalgia of their influences, the four members of BCC truly recast the heavy rock of the ’60s and ’70s and yank it into the 21st century as well as anyone in recent memory.
The key to the band’s unique style is how they take the classic sound of early British rock and inject it with a hearty dose of the blues. The group’s especially strong performance in Anaheim showcased that winning approach, with highlights built around haunting moods (“Faithless”) and infectious riffs (“Sista Jane”). All four skilled players deftly brought those elements together without overplaying even the heaviest of songs — not an easy task when all of them have spaces to solo.

Hughes handled the majority of lead vocals, his high tenor used to good effect throughout the show. But his singing with Bonamassa on “Song of Yesterday,” and the latter’s lone voice on his blues rocker “The Ballad of John Henry” further broadened the overall approach.

I’ve seen Bonamassa perform several times over the past several years, but it never gets old watching the 34-year-old New York native tear up on his array of axes. Many guitarists can play fast, countless others deliver obvious feeling, but only a handful of living masters somehow have the intangible ability to play with the power, speed, passion and originality that Bonamassa displays whenever he takes the stage.
This magical night flew by — but didn’t end until the band charged through a high-octane version of Deep Purple’s “Burn,” giving the relatively intimate Grove into the feel of a huge arena.

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