Despite the personnel changes, with latest album ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’ recently landing in the upper echelons of the U.K. chart, Black Star Riders appear to have been revitalised, and this was evident from the moment the band took to the stage.
Stepping out in front of a packed audience, Warwick was treated like a returning hero, his guitar emblazoned with the name of his hometown proudly raised above his head. Kicking off with ‘Paydirt’, the lyrics, particularly “my heart belongs to Belfast”, were never more apt.
Going straight into the celtic stomp of ‘Another State of Grace’ and new album earworm ‘Better Than Saturday Night’, the scene was set for what was to come; a night of classic rock with an authentic Irish infusion.
Greeting the crowd, an overwhelmed Ricky said; "What about you Belfast?!. How the fuck are you doing? It’s so good to see you, and it's so good to be home, right here, in God’s own fucking city!", to predictably huge cheers.
Thanking the crowd for giving the band a top ten album, they followed with the raucous title track, and an unlikely, bur uproarious cover of The Osmonds’ ‘Crazy Horses’.
With Warwick along with long time BSR bassist Robbie Crane, returning sticks man Jimmy DeGrasso and new recruit, guitarist Sam Wood kicking up a storm thus far, the best however, was yet to come.
“It's time to welcome a rock and roll legend, a man with a bad reputation wherever he goes”, announced the front man, with the anticipation hanging in the air, “Mr. Scott fuckin’ Gorham!”
Stepping on stage for the first time since November 2019, the Thin Lizzy man was greeted with near hysteria, and it’s hardly surprising. With his long association with Phyl Lynott, the Californian is Irish musical royalty, and deservedly so.
Grinning from ear to ear, the ‘Glendale Gunslinger’ looked to be having the time of his life on stage, as he soaked in the four years in the making adulation, and laid down the leads to ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, ‘Bound for Glory’, and an unexpected ‘Don’t Believe a Word’.
With a relentless set thus far, a welcome ‘Blindsided’ – perhaps the finest song the band have recorded – brought some pensive respite.
With the night coming to an end, band introductions saw Gorham take to the mic; “how you doing out there tonight?”, he enquired, before introducing; “one of my best friends, the hometown boy, born and bred right here in Belfast”.
Taking in the applause, Ricky looked to Scott and quipped; “how about we do one of yours?”, before launching into a thunderous ‘Jailbreak’.
Taking their bows, Warwick concluded saying; “Belfast, as always, it's a huge honour and a privilege to play for you tonight. Thanks for the support over the last ten years”, before adding; “we will see you again very, very soon”.
In a night of celebration, it was fantastic to be reminded of just how many quality songs Black Star Riders have produced across their ten-year, five-album existence. Miss this run at your peril.
Black Star Riders tour the U.K. throughout February. Tickets for all shows are available now.