Rock City, Nottingham. 14th March 2017
‘The Boys Are Back in Town’… but only for the one song!! More of which later.
The night started with Scottish Rockers Gun.
The Gizzi brothers have been around for a while now and this is obvious by the reception the band gets from the gathering crowd. They started the night off with ‘Let it Shine’ and then the crowd pleaser ‘Word Up’ a cover of Cameo’s hit from the 80’s. The band put on a great, but short set of only 7 songs. Their choice went down well with the swelling crowd, but as usual with a 3 band night their set is over all too quickly.
After a quick stage change over we were ready for Stockholm Rockers Backyard Babies.
This is a new band to me; I’d never heard any of their material prior to tonight’s show. No, I didn’t even YouTube them.
They stormed on stage straight into ‘Th1rte3n or Nothing’; this high powered, high octane opener certainly put a stamp on what this band is all about. The pace didn’t stop as they got stuck into ‘Dysfunctional Professional’ and then ‘The Clash’. Their ‘Punkesque’ style of modern European metal certainly got the crowd’s attention. They stood out as being the odd band in the line up, definitely more Metal than Rock. They went down well smashing the middle slot with a slick high paced 8 song set.
Another stage refurbish and time for the obligatory drink and pee break!
Black Star Riders
Having read a few interviews with the band prior to tonight’s show, I was expecting a set that majored on the bands back catalogue and not the Thin Lizzy peppered sets that they have played previously. It would be interesting to see how the crowd of fans would see this; after all they are used to a 60/40 split of BSR/TL tunes.
With 3 albums under BSR’s belt, they certainly had plenty to choose from, the selection for tonight’s show will prove an interesting choice.
The band hit the stage amidst huge cheers from the loyal fans. Ricky Warwick clad in a cut off leather jacket, or is it a waist coat? Sporting a pair of trendy Aviator sunglasses, he takes his position centre stage, ‘Star of the County Down’, his black Les Paul, hanging low. The first notes of the opening track ‘Heavy Fire’ strike up and he drops down even lower in his trademark pose as the intro smashes its way into the crowd. This opener is the title track to the self named new 2017 album. Six more songs from this album will feature during this set. ‘Bloodshot’ features next from the first album, ’All Hell Breaks Loose’ released in 2013. And then ‘Killer Instinct’ from the second album released in 2015, of the same name.
So three songs in and we’ve covered the sounds from all three albums. ’Dancing with the Wrong Girl’ from ‘Heavy Fire’ follows and then my favourite of the night ‘Soldierstown’ from ‘Killer Instinct’ really gets the crowd bouncing!!
Scott Gorham, founding member of BSR stands stage right dressed in black with his trade mark Les Paul hanging securely. He struts around the stage confidently, smiling and pointing at the ladies. Looking every part the Rock Star, his status unquestionable in rock culture, he looks like he’s enjoying every note that screams from his fingers.
Most of the Lead Guitar work tonight has been left to the younger Damon Johnson. This is a similarity to TL as with them Gorham often left the guitar work to the likes of Moore and Robertson. Damon, no youngster at 52yrs of age, has an impressive CV, having been a guitar man for bands including Alice Cooper, Faith Hill, Sammy Hagar, Damn Yankees and the aforementioned Thin Lizzy. He easily tackles the solo duties, moving to centre stage he easily smashes out the instrumental breaks to an eager crowd watching on with mouths open and hair flying everywhere.
Bass duty tonight falls to the newest member of the band, Robbie Crane. Hailing from Orange County, California, he has been playing bass since 1984, has played with Vince Neil and Lynch Mob amongst others so not too shabby. He joined BSR when former bass player, Marco Mendoza, bass guitarist with the Dead Daisies and the pre-BSR, Thin Lizzy line up, left midway through 2014. His thundering bass rocks away stage left, he prowls his side of the stage constantly, his hair flailing everywhere, only slowing down to Jam with Ricky Warwick as he moves across the stage to give Damon or Gorham the stage to ‘Dance in the Moonlight’ (pun) [rubbish pun – ed].
Completing the back line we have the great Jimmy Degrasso, again another young 54yr old with yet another impressive CV. Having played with, Deep Breath, Lita Ford, Ozzy, Y&T (a Rock City favourite),Alice Cooper, Dave Lee Roth and Dokken to name a few. Impressive or what!
And so the night continues, ‘Cold War’ dedicated to those who have loved and lost someone, fires up. This slows the band down as they impress with their song writing. This ballad has the house mirror ball in use. Light spins around the venue as Damon leads the way through this delicate song. That finishes and the band are back into full steam ahead mode with ‘All Hells Breaks Loose’. The perfect intro to the only Thin Lizzy song to be played tonight, ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’.
This is what a lot of the gathered crowd have been waiting for, a TL song played by a band with the credence to do it justice and that’s just what they do with Warwick sounding a lot like Lynott. If you close your eyes it felt as if the big man was back in the room, a compliment indeed. Sadly, as soon as the catchy riffs had struck up the the song is finished. TL for tonight has been put back into the guitar case as the band break into ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’ from the album ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’.
And so the rest of the evening continues. The band, as tight as ever, delivered an outstanding display of post-TL song writing. Warwick’s stage presence is as impressive as ever. He commands the stage, throwing his trademark shapes at every opportunity, mic stand high above his head one minute then guitar in the gutter the next, front man entertainment at its highest.
The last couple of songs of the night have been chosen wisely, ‘Bound for Glory’ and ‘Finest Hour’. Both of which fit in with trying to shake off the ‘Thin Lizzy Tribute’ title they have tagged themselves with. Warwick, ever the front man, made sure at the end of ‘Finest Hour’, that the crowd new they’d been listening to as he shouted out “WE ARE BLACK STAR RIDERS” a definite hint to the bands future direction.
And so the night ended, no encore, nothing, the house lights come on and the crowd leave, maybe a little bewildered but certain that Thin Lizzy no longer feature in the set, much, to the crowds apparent displeasure.
So what of the night?
Have the Black Star Riders made a brave if somewhat overdue decision to go forward by dropping the Lizzy section of the set? Who knows, but the band will always be likened to Lizzy whilst Gorham is involved, be it as song writer or guitarist in the band, they also have an exceptional, Irish front man in Ricky Warwick and, finally, they still use the classic Lizzy twin guitar harmonies.
This latest ‘Heavy Fire’ tour seems more about putting Thin Lizzy to bed and there- birth of a new Thin Lizzy band by another name. That name is BLACK STAR RIDERS. Phil would be pleased that his dream is carrying on albeit through a different voice.
Was it the finest hour? Certainly !
Are they bound for Glory? Definitely!
Sleep well Thin Lizzy, you’ve earned it !
Long Live Black Star Riders.
- Let It Shine,
- WordUp, Cameo Cover
- Don’t Say It’s Over
- Better Days
- She Knows
- Steal Your Fire
- Shame On You
- Th1rte3n or Nothing
- Dysfunctional Professional
- The Clash
- Brand New Hate
- Bloody Tears
- Minus Celsius
- Look at You
Black Star Riders
- Heavy Fire
- The Killer Instinct
- Dancing With The Wrong Girl
- Hey Judas
- When the Night Comes In
- Cold War Love
- All Hell Breaks Loose
- The Boys Are Back In Town, Thin Lizzy Cover (Jailbreak)
- Hoodoo Voodoo
- Who Rides The Tiger
- Thinking About You Could Get me Killed
- Testify or Say Goodbye
- Kingdom of the Lost
- Bound for Glory
- Finest Hour
Words & pictures by Manny Manson