Eleven, Stoke on Trent ~ Thursday night (18th August 2022), saw the Bouchard Brothers finish off an 8-day tour of the UK in the unlikeliest of surroundings, ‘Eleven Bar’ a venue tucked away on an Industrial Estate in Stoke on Trent.
Albert arrived on stage resplendent in kilt and leather sporran, Joe and his wife Joan appear with Stetsons. No introduction, no fanfare, you don’t need one when you’ve been around as long as these guys have.
They open with Cities on Flame, and it doesn’t take long before the big hits come along with Song 2 being Burning For You. The set list is made up of hits from their Blue Öyster Cult and Blue Coupe days, together with offerings from Joe’s latest album, ‘American Rocker’ and Albert’s 2020 release ‘Reimaginos’ - a reimagined working of the 1988 album ‘Imaginos’, which was meant to be Alberts first solo project but as Joe explained ended up being released under the Blue Öyster Cult name ‘probably for contractual reasons’.
Albert starts the solo efforts with ‘Black Telescope’ and Joe follows with his latest single ‘My Way is the Highway’, but then we’re back to the Blue Oyster Cult tunes with ‘Shadow of California’, ‘The revenge of Vera Gemini and OD’d on Life’, which Joe is unsure would be remembered by anyone so he questions ‘I hope you like it?’ - to which the crowd replies immediately ‘we will’.
Half an hour in and it’s evident that there’s a bond being created here, the crowd knows exactly who they’ve come to see, and memories are being re-lived from 30 and 40 years. They were about to start ‘Hounds of Hell’ when Albert breaks a string. This takes longer than usual to change because, he explains, his guitar is ‘new and shiny’. He also says that ‘it’s the first time he’s ever changed a string in front of an audience’. It doesn’t matter though as Joe and Joan go off-piste and do a duetted version of ‘She’s a Legend.
String changed and we’re back on track with ‘Independence Day’, ‘Imaginos’ and then ‘Astronomy’ from the album Secret Treaties which Joe says was released back in… but he hesitates just a bit too long so a wag from the audience finishes the sentence for him ‘1988’ came the reply. All damn near took the roof off - and then a song Joe wrote with Jim Carroll, ‘Angels Well’, a forgotten song that Jim revived for the Blue Coupe album ‘Tornado on the Tracks’.
It’s a this point that Joe wreaks devastation with everyone by announcing that there is a 10.15 curfew, which just can’t be broken, so there’s only 20 minutes left. I guess he doesn’t know that the people of Stoke on Trent can stay up late as it’s not a school night.
And so the clock ticks down, You (Like Vampires) and Career of Evil written by Albert with Patti Smith are next and then (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, which the band invite the Support Act, Cold Weather Company to join them on as thanks for being with them throughout the tour and creating a great vibe.
…and that, as they say, was it - until it’s pointed out that it’s only 10.10 and there’s a full 5 minutes to go before that curfew kicks in and so they strap the guitars back on and finish with Godzilla. How could they not and who doesn’t love a fake ending anyway. They’d been on stage for over an hour and a half - not bad for a band with an average age of 72 and they were amongst friends - a great way to finish a tour
…on a Thursday night
…on an industrial estate
…in Stoke on Trent.
Written for Rock at Night Magazine
Full set of images coming soon