Review by Damien Doherty for MPM
Northern Irelands favourite son Ricky Warwick has returned to the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill tonight for the first of 2 back to back acoustic gigs. The Almighty/Black Star Riders/Thin Lizzy star is accompanied for these gigs by his BSR mate and Wayward Sons guitarist Sam Wood.
This show has been sold out for several weeks and the excitement in the room is palpable. Derwin briefly addresses the crowd and asks that anyone who wants to chat about EastEnders do it in the downstairs bar, lol. Announcing their imminent arrival on stage, the song Crazy World is a lovely tribute to the recently deceased Aslan singer Christy Dignam, and then to rapturous applause they appear.
Ricky introduces Sam by recounting a recent discussion with a fan, a man who had seen Thin Lizzy several times in the 70s, who remarked how well Scott Gorham had aged. While having a passing resemblance to the legendary Lizzy guitar slinger, Sam is a mere 40 years younger, methinks someone should have gone to Specsavers! A quick hunt for a missing capo and the guys launch into Celebrating Sinking from Ricky’s “When Patsy Cline was crazy…” album followed by BSRs Killer Instinct and All Hell Breaks Loose.
Hands in the air and everyone is clapping along to the intro of Dancing in the Moonlight, the first of tonight’s Lizzy tracks, and then we have You Don’t Love Me from 2021s When Life was Hard and Fast album.
Ricky is in his usual talkative form tonight and preceding Better Than Saturday Night he shares the inspiration for that song, his 15 year old daughter Pepper taking his pride and joy Ford Mustang for a drive while he and his wife were out for dinner.
Blindsided, Fighting Heart and Testify or Say goodbye follow, then we are treated to the wonderful Schwaben Redoubt, the story of 2 Williams – Billy Drennan from South Belfast and Liam Kelly from Northside Dublin, two Irish lads from differing political backgrounds who fight and die together united in fear and loneliness for home in the Battle of the Somme. It’s a heartfelt song and one of the highlights of the night.
Before the first of The Almighty songs tonight, Wild and Wonderful, Ricky addresses the lack of a Belfast date for the short reunion tour in November.
As much as he would love to do so, in these post Covid and Brexit years bands are finding it prohibitively expensive to tour and many gigs are played at a loss. Sam recounts his starstruck first meeting with the unflusteringly cool Scott Gorham before they kick into Jailbreak.
The superb title track from 2016s When Patsy Cline was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang the Blues) is up next hotly followed by Paydirt, the opening track from the latest BSR album. Final Ricky solo offering for the evening is When Life Was Hard and Fast.
Then we have arguably 2 of the 3 top BSR tunes (in my humble opinion anyway), Kingdom of the Lost and Bound for Glory, neither losing any of their exceptionalness in these stripped down acoustic versions.
Hold on, is that Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, why yes, yes it is, and on 2 acoustic guitars – who’da thunk it. And closing out the night are Finest Hour and finally another Almighty rocker Free ‘n’ Easy.
What a show, an excellent selection of 20 songs across Ricky’s career, and an enthralled audience in the palm of their hands. Being the fantastic humans that they are they immediately come off the stage to meet, chat with, sign stuff, and be photographed with everyone making the night extra special for all present.