Buckcherry – The Treatment – Rubikon
O2 Academy Islington, London – 2 February 2024
Words: Monty Sewell
Photography: Robert Sutton
For a band that has been playing together for 25 years, Buckcherry is one of the few who has never deviated from the pure rock’ n’ roll soul that makes them great. In your face and unapologetic, the Californian natives are back in the UK. On one of those nights, London was the lucky ‘n’ leather location upon which they descended.
Unfortunately, vocalist Josh Todd suffered from a severe chest infection just days earlier. This led Buckcherry to cancel two previous shows, and it was touch and go as to whether the band could continue. But, as Newcastle got the go-ahead, us Londoners sighed a breath of relief for Josh’s health and the impending show.
The O2 Academy Islington heaved with long-haired rockers. There is a particular spice to the night when attending a party rock gig on the weekend. The crowd was already warming up their gritty vocals as the preview music blared out AC/DC.
Buckcherry marched onstage in proud battle-like formation to a resounding cheer. Stevie D. and Billy Rowe on guitar, Kelly Lemieux on bass, and Francis Ruiz on bass. Todd came on last, tambourine in hand and the undeniable rockstar presence about him.
Starting their set as they did their recording careers, they begin with Lit Up. Not since Eric Clapton has an audience so enthusiastically sung about cocaine. Horns are solidly in the sky as we get that classic Buckcerry material with So Hott, 54321, and No More Lies taken from their 2021 album Hellbound.
As Todd warms up into the show, you would be hard to believe just days before he had been unable to do light scales. Husky rasp with an eternal engine powering it, Todd’s vocals fuel the Buckcherry fire.
Again we get whisked back to the old days with Ridin before Bent and ultimate sleaze rock goody Porno Star. Todd addresses the crowd about that time, long before social media. A fair few folk take their phones down and swap them for a raised beer in hand.
Summer 69 is the cover we never knew we needed before the emotionally charged Pain and the motorcycle-revved Let’s Get Wild. All taken from their most recent release record, Vol. 10. Lemieux is the crazed rock man’s dream on bass. He rages industriously as he gawks and engages the crowd with animated snarls and onstage grooves.
The home run sees Sorry, Gluttony, and Good Time before the monumental end with – of bloody course – Crazy Bitch. It is guts and glory as the temperature of the room heats up. Mosh pits form, and ‘HELL YEAH!’ is yelled from every corner of the room. Stevie D. And Rowe split the solos between them, adding to the already ferocious dynamic of the band.
We get some tasty fills from Ruiz as the band is introduced. They slam-dunk us with some classic megamix before ending once more with Crazy Bitch.
Buckcherry are as Buckcherry do. Shirtless, covered in tattoos, screaming rock’ n’ roll to the sky and never letting that ball drop.
The Treatment was on fine form, supporting Buckcherry as they had done the last time the headliners were in town. Tom Rampton on vocals, Tagore and Tao Grey on guitars, Andy Millburn on bass, and Dhani Mansworth on drums. These guys know what they are all about and waste no time sharing their well-earned rock wrath with the audience.
The onstage choreography oozes with cinematic charisma as they thrash through their set with mammoth fists of steel. A note-perfect lead-up to the main event, the band is as seasoned in their playing as they are in their unfailing dedication to their classic rock heritage.
Newly released track Back To The 1970’s is a tongue-in-cheek proclamation of these roots. The guys are having the time of their lives as they cavort across the space, teasing the crowd as they inch closer. Drawn in by Rampton’s soaring vocals and the beckoning night ahead, the audience is given the whole rock’ n’ roll treatment. (No pun intended).
Let It Begin and Let’s Get Dirty are wrecking ball tracks that crash through the Academy with an almighty power craze. It is nothing short of brilliant, and the crowd agrees. It won’t be long before we see these new classic rock titans on the arena touring circuit.
Opening act Rubikon got the night going in style. The five-piece rock band has a dusted vigour that screams sunset strip as they play through their power-heavy set. Most recently released single, Lose It All, places them high in the rock ranks of no mercy by the strings.
With four full-length albums under their arms, Rubikon pours their best into this 30-minute set. No second is passed between one straight-down-the-barrel rock track to the next. Excitement and musical brawn are justified without a doubt.
The Academy is already bustling with fans as the numbers pile into the sound of Rubikons’ guitar-led fire. Some fantastic lead vocals from Jae Sims anchor the set as they round off the start of the evening. Let’s hope we see them back here, gracing our stages soon.