Black Country Communion.Photo/Mullins
It had all the emotion of a family reunion.
A high-volume, ground-shaking family reunion, that is -- minus the picnic baskets and sack races.
Still, Glenn Hughes clearly felt right at home, hanging out with his "adopted family."
As the leather-lunged, bass playing legend strolled on stage at The Pageant in St. Louis June 13, it was easy to see that "The Voice of Rock" was genuinely moved by the reception he was receiving.
What with the success that his pioneering funk-rock outfit from the early 1970s, Trapeze, enjoyed in St. Louis, and the way that Deep Purple was heralded there when he was in the group, it was no big surprise that the Gateway City and its faithful followers of radio station KSHE still has plenty of love for Glenn Hughes.
But as he would say several times on this night, Glenn Hughes is now part of "a brand-new band ... a new beginning ... a group that is building a foundation."
That group is Black County Communion (BCC).
And forever let it be known, they are here to give rock a much needed push back to the path it was on in the glorious hey-days of the 1970s.
Not alternative-rock, folk-rock or pop-rock.
With plenty of good, old-fashioned swagger and attitude.
The kind of bombastic rock that was en vogue back when bands like Humble Pie, Free, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin freely roamed the earth, kicking butts and taking names.
Comprised of Brits Hughes and Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), along with Americans Joe Bonamassa and Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater), BCC is 100-percent crunchy guitars, thunderous bass, chest-pounding drums and atmospheric keyboards -- all served with a banshee's wail, to boot.
Just a day before their second release -- the aptly titled '2' hit the street; BCC pounded their fledgling mission statement home at The Pageant.
Tunes of that new album made up about half of the group's set and they blended seamlessly with material off their self-titled debut of a year ago.
Opening with the bottom-end heft of "Black Country" and "One Last Soul" off their first album, BCC, although still finding their sea legs at this point in the game, are clearly are a force to be reckoned with.
Though most of his career arc to date has largely taken place in the world of the blues, Bonamassa attacked the strings on his Les Paul with the fury and vengeance of a guitarist who is naturally born to tilt his head back and just shred for hours. And that's what he did for the duration, even turning his rootsy original "The Ballad of John Henry" into a monstrous metal stomper, complete with a cool workout on the Theremin, for added measure.
The dramatic balance between light and dark on numbers like "Song for Yesterday," which features the under-rated lead vocals of Bonamassa, really sharpen into focus when played live by the foursome.
Sherinian teased the synthesizer intro to The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" at the end of the Hughes/Bonammasa penned "Sista Jane." This was deftly picked up on by Bonham, who then treated his DW drum kit to his best Keith Moon impersonation, rattling every seat in the venue.
BCC seem ready to make their mark as a living, breathing unit of one, creating a body of work that will stand on its own, despite the stellar resumes they've garnered as individuals up to this point.
And with displays of power like the one that they let rain down upon The Pageant, it wouldn't be a wise move to get in this group's way.
Not for a second.
BCC did acknowledge the fans of Hughes in attendance sporting Trapeze and Tommy Bolin shirts, by capping the bedlam with a smokin' version of the Deep Purple classic "Burn," with Bonamassa firing Ritchie Blackmore-like riffs left and right off his wood-grained Flying V.
As the final wafts of smoke meandered off in the distance and the group took its final bow to chants of "BCC", Hughes stood on stage for an extra second, blowing kisses to the crowd, pounding his heart with his fist and repeatedly saying "thank you" as he soaked it all in.
That was a perfect ending to two hours of perfectly-impressive, no-hold-barred, rock-n-roll, all warmed to a just-right temperature by the welcoming home of a treasured member of the family.