Black Star Riders at The Academy – Review
Black Star Riders – The Academy, 14 December 2013
Black Star Riders, for those unaware, are the band that Scott Gorham’s reincarnation of Thin Lizzy have become. Although Gorham has had Lizzy back on the road for a number of years with various ex-members and new recruits, thus far they have only played under the Lizzy name and only performed Lizzy material…until now. Gorham has professed a desire to record new material for a long time but the debate raged about whether they should release it under the Lizzy banner or not. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and he made the decision to release the material under a new name, because lets face it, Lizzy without Philo just isn’t Lizzy regardless of how many ex-members are currently serving (which, incidentally is only Scott Gorham these days).
It was a bold step by Gorham to move away from the comfort of the Lizzy blanket but it looks like one that will pay off. The show features a 50/50 mix of the bands new material and classic Lizzy songs and it has to be said that the new material fits in very comfortably with the old songs.
Kicking off with the title track from the new album ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ we move quickly into ‘Are You Ready’ and from then on we’re treated to a BSR track followed in quick succession by a Lizzy classic each time. Gorham has put together a fantastic band that really do justice to the Lizzy material. The feeling I get is that there is a real passion in this band for the Lizzy material especially from the singer Ricky Warwick (ex of The Almighty). Looking like a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and a Hells Angel, Warwick assumes the vocalist spot with ease and although he’s not in the same league as Lynott (then again, who is?), he does an excellent job of paying homage to the Lizzy material and Philo himself.
The BSR material itself owes a big nod to Lizzy, with lots of guitar harmony parts, what you’d expect from a band with Scott Gorham fronting it. A particular highlight was the Celtic tinged ‘Kingdom of the Lost’. which went down best of all the new songs. We get all the great Lizzy songs, ‘Emerald’, ‘Don’t Believe A Word’, ‘Southbound’ and the crowd favourite ‘Cowboy Song’ which segues nicely into the last number‘ The Boys Are Back in Town’ a la ‘Live & Dangerous’. Guitarist Damon Johnson returns to the stage and plays a blast of the guitar solo from ‘Black Rose’ a nod to the late Gary Moore also, which was a nice touch, and the band return, to the delight of the full house, for singalong renditions of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ and ‘Rosalie’, the Bob Seger number that Lizzy made their own. Its obvious that the crowd are primarily there for the Lizzy songs and it makes sense for the band to rely so heavily on them. Its also nice to see the Lizzy flame being kept alive and hopefully passed to a new generation of fans. Having said that, BSRs material is no slouch in the kick ass rock department and my advice for fans of classic rock is to check it out, you wont be disappointed. All in all a great night with a full house sent home happy.
Roll on the ‘Vibe for Philo’… It’s the Life For Me…
Review by Tony Martin