Review by Damien Doherty for MPM
It’s a hometown gig tonight for Belfast son Ricky Warwick. Not only that but it’s the first night of the 10th Anniversary tour. Their 5th album Wrong Side of Paradise released at the end of January and quickly climbed to #1 in the UK Rock and Metal charts, and #6 in the UK Top 40 chart.
With Ricky on this tour are Robbie Crane on bass, Jimmy DeGrasso on drums, Sam Wood on guitar, and the Thin Lizzy legend Scott Gorham on his farewell tour with the band.
Support tonight is from local lads Trucker Diablo; anyone who has seen them knows their reputation as a good time hard rockin live act.
Kicking off with The Rebel the whole place is immediately jumping. Singer Tom Harte knows how to engage the audience with his between song banter – “who’s getting up for mass in the morning”, lol. Crowd participation is requested for Rock Kids of the Eighties one of the highlights of the set, and everyone is rollin when they play their Proud Mary/Drink Beer/Drink and Destroy medley.
“Seven minutes left” says Tom, “let’s do Dark Side of the Moon”. Absolutely brilliant set, the ideal appetizer for what is to come.
By the time Black Star Riders take the stage the venue is bunged with an audience ranging from 18 to 80. Ricky has a smile from ear to ear, from social media we can see he has been engaging with the home fans all day, and everyone that he has met can’t talk highly enough of his willingness to talk and have photos taken.
The first act is laden with tracks from the new album. Ricky, Jimmy, Robbie and Sam kick off with Pay Dirt from the new album, “my heart belongs to Belfast” sings Ricky of his home turf. Better than Saturday Night, Riding Out the Storm, Wrong Side of Paradise, and the cover of The Osmond’s Crazy Horses are interspersed with Another State of Grace and When the Night Comes In.
Sam Wood is grinning from ear to ear all night, the young Wayward Sons guitarist looks ecstatic to be playing among heroes, and who could blame him.
He now moves from the right hand side of the stage and in enters the iconic Mr. Gorham to take up his customary position and All Hell Breaks Loose literally. At 71 years old, Scott, like his ex-Lizzy band mate Brian Downey, can still upstage any musician with his energy and virtuosity.
Bloodshot and Soldiertown precede the classic Don’t Believe a Word. Ricky swaps out his Les Paul for his acoustic for Blindsided, before we are back in full throttle for The Killer Instinct. Before the War and Testify or Say Goodbye follow, then we are treated to the opener from 2019s Another State of Grace, Tonight the Moonlight Let Me Down.
We are into the last act of the night, Jimmy DeGrasso pounds out the familiar floor tom intro to Kingdom of the Lost, a firm favourite among the assembled masses, certainly in my top three BSR tracks. There’s no let up with Bound For Glory up next.
All night Robbie Crane has been providing both the low-end thump and the flawless backing vocals, very evident in the chorus of this song.
The penultimate song is another treat for Lizzy fans, the much beloved Jailbreak and the entire audience is singing in unison, “breaaak ouuuttt”! However, the night has sadly come to an end, and Finest Hour seems a fitting way to conclude proceedings.
Certainly one of the finest hour (and 40mins) that I’ve witnessed at this venue. Belfast loves Black Star Riders, and the feeling is mutual from the smiles and waves of the lads as they exit the stage. They don’t come much better than (this) Saturday night, here’s hoping for a return visit in the very near future.
Photography by MPM