Review by Jo Lloyd and photos by Mark Lloyd
It was a hot and sweaty evening at the Birmingham Asylum and within half an hour of the doors opening the room was heaving. After touring relentlessly with the release of their debut album All Hell Breaks Loose, this eight date UK stint has seen Black Star Riders play some venues not used to bands of their calibre. With a new album to be released next year and a tour with fellow melodic rockers Europe, this venue definitely provides a more intimate feel than what the band are used to.
Opening band Tax the Heat looked stylish (if not a little warm) as they hit the stage in their slim fitting suits and perfectly quaffed hair. They are definitely a massive act in the making, following in the blues-rock based footsteps of bands like Rival Sons. With yet more support dates later this month with The Graveltones, Tax the Heat are a band to look out for and are already attracting some interesting media attention with the support of Planet Rocks DJ Paul Anthony.
Taking to the stage with ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ from the album of the same name, the anticipation for Black Star Riders was palpable. The roof was then blown clear off as they launched into the Lizzy classic ‘Are you Ready?’ with the crowd bellowing the words back as Warwick had them eating out of the palm of his hand looking every bit at home on stage. The energy oozing from each member was off the charts and clear for every one to see that these guys clearly love what they are doing and the songs that they play.
Watching rock legend Scott Gorham alongside dextrous Damon Johnson was spine tingling as they mastered their highly charged melodies and the smile on Jimmy Degrasso’s face was contagious! Although we have recently seen the departure of bassist Marco Mendoza, his replacement ex-Ratt bassist Robbie Crane, is a superb fit and the band clearly have a great chemistry on stage obviously giving 110% throughout.
With a set list peppered with Lizzy classics like ‘Bad Reputation’ & ‘Jail Break’ for the die hard fans, the Black Star Riders material is what really blew me away. The Celtic flavour was most definitely there with ‘Kingdom of the Lost’ sitting perfectly alongside the well established ‘Emerald’. ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’ had everyone dancing and of course ‘Bound for Glory’ had everybody’s fists pumping the air!
The band closed the night with an incredible rendition of ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ which had everyone singing at the top of their lungs before returning to the stage for their incredible encore beginning with a breathtaking guitar solo by Johnson. Even the security guards joined in as soon as ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ began as the crowd went mental and continued doing so into ‘Rosalie’. The smiles from everyone in the crowd were amazing as Black Star Riders proved they are in no way a Thin Lizzy tribute or covers band – they are so much more!