Revellers at Belfast’s Limelight 1 were treated to a jam-packed session on Thursday night as Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson blasted through an immense catalogue of hits during their sonic acoustic attack in the city. Accompanied by Scottish hard rocker Gill Montgomery who kicked off the early show.
“Good evening, Belfast! This is Damon Johnson… And this is Mister Belfast himself, Ricky Warwick!” introduced in perfect synchronicity as the night advanced to rapturous applause. Warwick asked, “Are you ready to rock!?” before tearing into the first track of the same name.
“Ah, it’s great to be home!” Warwick said before he commented on his partner’s prowess with a cheeky grin, “He’s just entered a world I’ve never been in – what’s it like up there in the 12th fret?” to which Johnson replied, “The air’s a little thin.” And this continued to be a night of relaxed stories, comedy, and superb talent as the two, who clearly loved being on stage together reminisced and entertained.
As Johnson talked of their respective back catalogue with Alice Cooper, Black Star Riders, and Thin Lizzy, he said they had been touring for about six weeks now to which Warwick joked, “And there have been a lot of knife fights…about our favorite Thin Lizzy track – what’s yours?” he asked onlookers. Several notable entries were returned with enthusiasm until Warwick pointed and said, “You win” as he moved into an enigmatic rendition of “Borderline”. Warwick’s raw emotion perfectly complemented by Johnson’s smooth tone.
Littered with the familiar dark Northern Ireland humour , Ricky Warwick enjoyed himself as he spoke about his memories of growing up there. He mentioned that he had written a song alongside Andy Cairns of Therapy? which elicited huge cheers from the local legion. It was about how great a place Northern Ireland is, wryly titled, “Celebrating sinking”. As they moved into the Neil Young classic, “Rockin’ in the Free World”, the audience were reaching stellar heights as Warwick’s massive vocals filled the room.
As he paid an emotional tribute to his dad, Warwick mentioned with a smirk that he’d moved the family away from the troubles to a life of peace in Glasgow before he continued into a heartfelt performance of The Almighty’s “Free & Easy”. Both artists powered through hits such as Jailbreak, Blindsided and Johnson delivered a remarkable display of Brother Cane’s first single “Got No Shame”.
As they blasted on through hits including “Bound for Glory” and a thrilling rendition of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”, the raucous crowd couldn’t get enough. The boys climaxed with an energy charged performance of the iconic “Whiskey in the Jar” which delighted the Belfast audience
Earlier in the evening, Gill Montgomery of The Amorettes ignited the crowd with a selection of hard, fast, rock ‘n’ roll. She powered through a plethora of hits including “Let the Neighbours call the cops”, “Everything I learned, I learned from rock ‘n’ roll”, and Radio 2 favourite “Whatever gets you through the night”; the crowd revelled in the frontwoman’s natural charisma. This tour continues through October, with a new Black Star Riders album expected in February next year to be followed by a UK and European tour.
Review by Colleen Crawford
Photography by Liam Kielt