2013 has been a big year for Black Star Riders. They released their debut album, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, which was well received by fans and critics alike and made successful festival appearances across Europe, including a main stage slot at Download. So what better way to round off the year than with an extensive trek across the UK taking in all points from Bournemouth to Inverness?
Support on this tour is provided by the latest ‘supergroup’, The Dead Daisies. The band is made up of members of Guns n’ Roses and The Rolling Stones as well as other able musicians with long and successful careers. The band have created a bit of a stir lately with the release of the track ‘Lock n Load’, which features Slash on guitar duties, and by having their debut album given away with Classic Rock Magazine.
With a suitably full Picture House the band took to the stage to a dramatic backing track before kicking off with ‘Face I Love’. Frontman and founding member Jon Stevens has a powerful, rasping voice which suits the bluesy rock well.
As the set progressed it was clear that all on stage were fantastic musicians. Richard Portus from Guns n’ Roses was taking care of guitar duties and looked thrilled to be freed from the shadow of Axl, dancing and bouncing his way through the set whilst his G ‘n’ R colleague, Dizzy Reed, tinkled the ivories to great effect.
There was though something missing from the performance. The band appeared to lack the spark to really set the night alight and I think this was down to the fact that this is more of a musical project than an actual band. The onstage rapport between the players was lacking and it didn’t really fully gel. This coupled with Jon Stevens’ lack of crowd interaction meant that the band never fully connected with the crowd and their response was muted at best.
That’s not to say it was a bad set, on the contrary, the set was great, especially the afore- mentioned ‘Lock n Load’ and the cover of ‘Helter Skelter’ which closed the set, it just didn’t engage as it should have done. I have no doubt if they can keep this line up together the guys will feel more at ease and will become a ‘band’. If however the ‘open door’ policy continues then the live performance may remain as six amazing musicians that just happen to be sharing the same stage.
Black Star Riders however more than demonstrated how to engage the audience. From the opening bars of ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ the band had the crowd in the palm of their hands. ‘Are You Ready’ followed and the set was to prove a great mix of tracks from the new album mixed with Thin Lizzy classics.
Ricky Warwick now appears at ease taking the vocal duties and is more than capable of coping with the Lizzy back catalogue. Scott Gorham is now the only Lizzy member left to continue the legacy but with players of such a high calibre around him no older fans were left feeling short changed.
Early set highlights included the celtic flavoured ‘Bloodshot’ and old favourites ‘Don’t Believe A Word’ and ‘Jailbreak’. The twin lead guitar work between Damon Johnson and Gorham was spot on and enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck bringing memories of Gary Moore flooding back. The band’s latest single ‘ Kingdom Of The Lost’ proved to be a powerhouse live which had the crowd bouncing and singing along and this was followed by ‘Hey Judas’ which again went down a storm.
Just to make sure the diehard Lizzy fans were kept happy the guys also threw in ‘Southbound’ from the Bad Reputation album, a welcome break from the greatest hits set. It was the hits that carried us to the end of the set inevitably with ‘Emerald’, ‘Bound For Glory’, ‘Cowboy Song’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ all delivered in fine fashion.
The band still weren’t finished though. Damon Johnson returned to the stage for a quick solo spot, including a snippet of Gary Moore’s solo from ‘Black Rose’ and a part rendition of ‘Flower Of Scotland’, both of which were met with huge cheers. This was followed by a rocking ‘Whisky In The Jar’ and ‘Rosalie’ finally brought the evening to a close.
Black Star Riders once again proved themselves as one of the best live bands at the moment and they put their heart and soul into the performance. I saw a comment later by someone deriding the band as a ‘Thin Lizzy tribute act’, all I can say is he obviously hasn’t witnessed the guys live as they are so much more, they are the Black Star Riders!
Review and Dead Daisies photo by Dave Wilson
Black Star Riders Photos & Gallery by Steve Goudie
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.
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