Date: 27th October 2019
Never a band to skimp on delivering value for money when you buy a ticket for one of their shows, Black Star Riders head a top-notch triple bill.
With Ricky Warwick and Scott Gorham at the core and four albums behind them, means that the Black Star Riders can finally drop the Thin Lizzy associations that gave them their spark.
A fully-fledged unit of their own, the new boys – drummer Chad Szeliga and lead guitarist Christian Martucci – have fitted the bill perfectly. Martucci, in particular, is an inspired choice in the role of partnering Scott Gorham; his Mohican styling and Flying V adding to the sartorial splendour required at The Ritz. Robbie Crane is well established now and the quintet blitzed through their four albums worth with a twin guitar majesty and fire that still provides the sort of electric thrill we were feeding off thirty years ago.
Manchester was the last of 16 dates where they’ve also done a shedload of instore acoustic sets and signings at HMV stores, these boys have a work ethic. In fact, it was in Manchester that afternoon where Ricky talked about classic Scott Gorham riffs – Scott promptly lost his place “where are we up to?” in the next song, probably distracted by a killer kazoo solo from Chad Szeliga.
Nineteen songs were bookended (almost) by the two rocking efforts that swing with a Celtic sway. The title track of the new album and Kingdom Of The Lost (possibly their defining moment) have an emerald isle swagger and raise the odd goosebump or two in the way that Black Rose always did when they get the the guitar lines that jig and reel like the best folk music.
Songs from their first album are now gaining ‘classic’ status – Bloodshot and Bound For Glory are becoming as familiar as Jailbreak and Bad Reputation although it may take something to rank with The Boys Are Back In Town. The current set could well be Black Star Riders’ finest hour. To cement the status, I reckon we could be almost ready for the double live album. To coin a phrase: Europe, are you ready?
As always, BSR were supported by two bands that did the job of seriously warming up and audience in which there couldn’t have been too many who were unaware of either and for those who weren’t, there will be a few new fans. With more than plenty of good humoured lip-pursed gurning and shapes thrown with bass guitars held aloft, it was like a gentle compo between Stone Broken and Wayward Sons to see who could spend the most time with their feet on the monitors. And we thought they were for listening to the onstage sound.
The Stone Broken crew, led by Rich Moss and his trademark hat have two albums worth to choose from yet it might have been Rich taking a brief acoustic diversion (the crowd providing the orchestra) on Wait For You and a raucous mass singalong on Not Your Enemy that were their set highlights. Even opening proceedings at the ungodly early rock and roll time of 7.30, Wayward Sons had the windstorm of their brilliant The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be album right behind them. Toby Jepson we might know from his Little Angels days, but he’s an underrated star fronting a band whose energy is infectious and with a batch of fresh songs to play together with cherry-picks from their first album, their engines were well stoked. Be sure to catch Toby and the guys when they headline next year. A pretty faultless night on the town.
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page