The first quarter of 2015 is awash with gigs of all shapes and sizes but one tour which has been hotly anticipated since it was announced is the co-headline tour with Black Star Riders and Europe. Two dates were announced for Glasgow, one selling out and this show, the first night, also graced with a large crowd.
Opening proceedings on the tour were The Amorettes who were on home turf at the ABC. The only problem with opening at said venue is that you tend to be on when most people, including myself, are still trying to get into Glasgow so unfortunately I managed to miss the girls’ set. With their second album, ‘Game On’, about to be released and this support tour their future looks bright so hopefully I will catch them in Glasgow again soon.
I did make it in time (just!) for Black Star Riders, and they proved to be on top form. Opening with ‘Bound For Glory’ the guys looked like they were enjoying being back on stage after being stuck in the studio recording their latest album, ‘The Killer Instinct’.
The first of many tracks from the Thin Lizzy back catalogue followed in the shape of ‘Jailbreak’ with some excellent dual guitar work from Damon Johnson and Scott Gorham. The partnership between Johnson and Gorham has really gelled over the past few years and they complement each other perfectly.
During the set we were treated to four songs from the new album including ‘Soldierstown’ and the two recent singles ‘Killer Instinct’ and ‘Finest Hour’ all of which were received like old friends. It was the Lizzy classics though which received the biggest cheers of the night. ‘Emerald’ found Warwick donning his guitar to complete a six string onslaught and produce one of the set highlights.
‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ was another highlight with the crowd singing along for all they were worth. The Glasgow choir were called into service once again to help out on ‘Whisky In The Jar’ which rounded off a very tight and dynamic set.
On this co-headline tour both BSR and Europe have an allotted 70 minutes to ply their wares and Black Star Riders certainly made the most of their time. There was the odd sound issue early in the set which were resolved as things progressed but that didn’t detract from a great set.
With Black Star Riders setting the bar so high could Europe match with their performance? The answer is yes but they went about their business in a very different way. Where BSR had thrown in a hand grenade which caused an intense 70 minute rock explosion, Europe prefered to provide their punch wrapped in a silk glove.
The biggest difference is that Europe tend to be focused around Joey Tempest with the others happy to let him take the limelight where as BSR is more of a whole band experience. Joey though has the frontman gig down to a fine art and is more than capable of holding the crowd whilst the band get on with playing some damn fine music.
Opening with a new track is always a brave move but with a song as strong as ‘War Of Kings’, the title track from the band’s latest album, they were on safe ground. ‘Hole In My Pocket’ followed, again from the new album before we found ourselves on more familiar ground with John Norum churning out the chunky riff to ‘Last Look At Eden’.
Again the sound for the first few numbers was a bit mixed but things quickly got back on track. This was around the same time as the copious amounts of dry ice which had filled the stage for the opening number began to clear, if you have ever seen the film ‘The Fog’ the effect was much the same!
Joey Tempest was in a jovial mood, trying his hand at a few choice Scottish phrases between songs and smiling all the while. John Norum played up a storm on guitar, especially on ‘The Beast’ and ‘Firebox’ both of which have monstrous riffs and matched the intensity of the BSR performance.
The crowd went suitably wild as Norum played the opening chords to ‘Rock The Night’, always a crowd pleaser, before yet another new track, ‘Days Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, with Tempest helping out on rhythm guitar. There was only one song which could conclude the evening and with ‘The Final Countdown’ the guys didn’t disappoint, a great way to round off a great show.
It was an inspired choice to have these two bands tour together and in terms of value for money it is hard to beat. Both bands put in an excellent and polished performance although for me Black Star Riders did edge it with a more full on and dynamic performance, but to be honest I would have been happy seeing either band in isolation.
Old rockers never die, they just go out on package tours for which we fans should be truly thankful, amen to that!
Footnote – I managed to catch the Black Star Riders set at the second Glasgow show and if anything it was better than the first. The sound was perfect from the off and the set list had been slightly changed and included a fantastic rendition of ‘Massacre’. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for Europe’s set but the BSR set made the journey to Glasgow more than worthwhile.
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
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