Home Gigs Gig Review : Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts The Forum, Tunbridge Wells

Gig Review : Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts The Forum, Tunbridge Wells

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Ricky Warwick is a man with many hats these days. When he’s not upfront with Black Star Riders or Thin Lizzy, he’s busy solo, re-forming The Almighty for a farewell tour or recently performing as part of an acoustic duo with Sam Wood.

Tonight he’s leading another of his bands, this time The Fighting Hearts on the last night of a 4 night mini tour and having been to Blackpool, Reading and Pentrich, I was eagerly awaiting his arrival in Kent.

A word about the venue as The Forum is a tiny place which can hold 250 people maximum and yet they are getting some decent acts into this sleepy affluent commuter town in Kent. Stone Broken played here a few months ago, as did Dr Feelgood with The Treatment, FM, Black Spiders and the UK Subs all heading there later this year so hats off to them for helping to keep decent live music alive in this part of the world.

However, we now had the small matter of support band Wicked Stone. The Kent based outfit have been together around 8 years and I previously saw them in 2016 at the now defunct Ramblin’ Man Festival, since when the line up has changed with the only original members being vocalist Joe Hawx and drummer Olly Smith remaining.

The sound the band are putting out these days is more polished and a little heavier with the twin guitars of Dave Austin and Joe Davies who between them know how to put a riff or two together, ably assisted by Tom Lane on the bass. The small stage at The Forum doesn’t allow for much movement but the boys are soon getting down and dirty and those that have arrived early enough are enjoying what they are hearing.

Joe Hawx’s vocals are melodic and very strong but he does let himself down when he shouts “Are we ok Tonbridge?” several times, before he’s abruptly told that this is Tunbridge Wells and not Tonbridge (which is a town about 7 miles up the road!). His next shout out is correct and met with load cheers from the locals.

Hawx leads the line more than ably with his voice being at the centre of everything the band do and why not, as it is very impressive as the guys run through their set including tracks from their latest album ‘Synergy’ but finish with an old favourite “Another Round”. The last notes are met with huge cheers from the now swollen crowd, before plenty of them head to the merch table, presumably to buy the aforementioned album.

A short break and without any fanfare the main attraction took to the stage to loud cheers from the crowd of around 200. Alongside Warwick, he has gathered Richard Vernon (Bass), Jack Taylor (Drums) and Ben Christo from the Sisters of Mercy (Guitar) and they immediately rip into a cover version of Mink Deville’s ‘Gunslinger’ from the latest album and it sets the tone for what is going to be a thunderous evening.

Having seen Warwick as lead for some of his other bands as well as in an acoustic setting, I always find him a charismatic character as well as a proper old time rock n roller. He wants to have a good time and he wants you to have a good time even more and he’s prepared to work hard to ensure it. Blasting their way through songs from the catalogues of Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders and Warwick’s solo projects, every one of the band are on their metal with Jack Taylor working away like a man possessed on the drums.

By the time we get to the fantastically titled “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)” the crowd were buzzing at what they are being served up and cheering and applauding the end of each song with The Almighty’s “Wrench” followings shortly after, ensuring a sing-a-long of monstrous proportions.

The evening was still young and this was turning into one of those evenings that will live long in the memory. This was rock n roll how it was meant to be – in a small hot venue, volume all the way up and the band barely three feet away from the front row giving it their all.

A few tracks from the latest album “When Life Was Hard and Fast” followed – with “Jonestown Mind”, a track Warwick wrote with Andy Cairns from Therapy for The Almighty, in amongst them – before the title track from previous album “Tattoos And Alibis”.

The songs kept coming thick and fast, the pace never letting up all night, but all good things have to come to an end and sure enough we were soon into the closing stages of what had been a blistering set, showcasing Warwick’s talent not only as a performer but also as a songwriter. The Black Star Riders’ “Finest Hour” seemed fitting, but we then moved swiftly into a cover of Motorhead’s “Iron Fist” and a finale of The Almighty’s “Free n’ Easy”.

With guitar held aloft in victory like a gladiator over his slain opponent, I thought the cheering and applause would never end for a man who had just proven he is one of our very best performers. This was a crowd of barely 200 and yet he had worked his socks off to ensure that every single one off them went home happy. As if to confirm that, I queued for the merch stand and when I got there asked to buy a copy of the CD – they had sold out.

Thank you Ricky and the band for a truly unforgettable night.

Review by Howard Whitelaw for MetalPlanetMusic

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