Black Star Riders
Manchester O2 Ritz
Sunday 27th October 2019
Review by Joanne Marsland
Photos by Philip Goddard
Well if you’re a fan of updated, good old fashioned guitar rock music then this was a belter of a night for you, I lost count of how many guitars appeared on stage throughout the show. The two support bands were a perfect choice, a combination of traditional rock and modern rock and both had huge support in the crowd.
The first band, Wayward Sons, began the evening with an awesome set starting with Any Other Way, a track from their new album The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be. Frontman Toby Jepson was in fine voice, accompanied by the rest of the band Sam on guitar, Nic on bass, Dave on keys and Phil Martini who plays the hell out of those drums, really entertaining to watch. The other tracks played from the new album were Little White Lies and the new single Jokes On You, and from their first album, Ghosts Of Yet To Come, they played Don’t Wanna Go, Ghost, Small Talk and ended the set with Until The End. What a great band to start the night, sounded fantastic, you’d think they’d been together for many more years than they have and they definitely warmed up the ever increasing crowd.
Stone Broken were up next, from Walsall but there’s definitely a hint of a U.S/Canadian rock influence in their music. They kicked off their set with Stay All Night from their 2017 album All In Time, some cracking guitar work showcased from all three guys right from the off. They then played Doesn’t Matter and my personal favourite Heartbeat Away from their 2018 album Ain’t Always Easy. Singer Rich then took time out to wish his future mother in law (and drummer Robyns mum) a happy birthday and had the whole crowd singing to her. I Believe, Let Me See It All and The Only Thing I Need were then belted out before the rest of the band Kieron, Chris and Robyn left Rich on stage with his acoustic guitar to sing their latest release, the beautiful ballad Wait For You. The band then returned to rock it out at the end of the song and followed it up with Worth Fighting For. The set ended with a fan favourite Not Your Enemy with Rich getting the crowd involved throughout. Brilliant band both lyrically and musically, bringing guitar rock music into the modern world and definitely one to keep a look out for in the future.
Headliners, Black Star Riders, have been called a Thin Lizzy tribute band many times in the past due to guitarist Scott being a former member and singer Ricky sounding a lot like Phil Lynott, but now they are breaking free from that title and going on tour without playing any Thin Lizzy covers, just pure Black Star Riders. They began the set with the tour and new album title track Another State Of Grace, guitars and chants a plenty. Two more title tracks next The Killer Instinct from 2015 and All Hell Breaks Loose from 2013 followed by Testify Or Say Goodbye from 2017 album Heavy Fire.
Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down has to be the one song that sounds most like a Thin Lizzy track, but with Scott on guitar there are always going to be fragments of his former band slicing through into the new songs. Ricky and Robbie are also awesome guitarists and recent addition Christian gives the band a more up to date feel with his playing style and his punk look, nearly up staging the commanding frontman but that’s just not possible. Big shout out to drummer Chad too, played out of his skin. My personal favourite song was Soldiers Town, it really gets the crowd chanting along as Ricky pumps the mic stand into the air, reminiscent of a drunken Northern Irish shanty but with gritty lyrics about war. Two slow tracks followed, Why Do You Love Your Guns? and Blindsided which really showcased Ricky’s voice. He then threw away his jacket and normal service resumed for the rest of the show with fast paced raucous rock songs from all four of their albums starting with Bloodshot and ending the night with Kingdom Of The Lost and Bound For Glory. This was the first time I had seen this band and I thought they were outstanding, new songs but with the best bits of rock n rolls’ past intertwined, it really works!!!
Other tracks played were:
Ticket to rise
In the shadow of the war machine
Ain’t the end of the world
When the night comes in
Underneath the afterglow
Dancing with the wrong girl