LIVE REVIEW! Black Star Riders - O2 Institute, Birmingham

Everyone loves Thin Lizzy and the legacy they created. Not a single rock fan could say they haven't been influence by or listened to an album influenced by their music. So, it was a big step when the final touring version of the band took the step to leave the shadow of that legacy and record new material under a new name. Now three albums into their stand-alone career Black Star Riders are very much out of that shadow and forging a path of their own, built on that solid foundation. Off the back of newly the released Heavy Fire album, the BSR juggernaut stops off at the Institute in Birmingham on their headline tour of the UK.

Along for the ride are tour openers GUN, Scottish hard rockers from the 90's. Everyone remembers their cover of Word Up, and for many this is all they know of the band, but they do offer a lot more. The aforementioned song is rolled out very early in the half hour set, which did of course get the crowd up for a sing along. Whether it was limited space on stage or the limited set time, I'm not sure, but the performance lacked a spark, a missing something to get the place buzzing. Still the band rolled out fan favourites Better Days and Shame on You to close out the set which had the crowd enjoyed like it was 1990 all over again

 Main support are Backyard Babies, a Swedish hard rock act with an infusion of punk for good measure. A fast and furious performance that has come the be a staple of the bands live shows, mic stands go flying as bodies are thrown around the stage to kick off a wild 45 minutes. The act may not be the most familiar to the Black Star Riders core audience, but they soon win them over with a set of enthusiastic rock anthems. Highlights include classic Bombed (Out of your Mind) and Minus Celsius; you can't fault the band for a perfect set that will win them a whole new audience.
And thus we arrive at the main draw of the evening. A strong man lifting weights of fire looks down on the auditorium from on high, the back drop is the Heavy Fire album cover awaiting the Black Star Riders presence on stage. Scott Gorham enters first, the Thin Lizzy legend and man around which this band is built, to adulation from the masses. A subtle hand wave acknowledges the applause as he straps on his iconic Les Paul, whilst the rest of the band take up positions to equal adulation.
With no more introduction needed the band launch into Heavy Fire, the title track from the new album. Scott and front man Ricky Warwick are immediately back to back playing guitars in tandem with giant smiles adorning their faces. The pyro lights up the room as they quickly roll out Bloodshot and The Killer Instinct.

 Dancing with the Wrong Girl is one of a number of songs tonight that would not be out of place on any Thin Lizzy album from their prime. It highlights perfectly the legacy the band have nurtured under the Black Star Riders guise. Rick Warwick is the ultimate front man commanding the stage, but not over shadowing any other members. Vocally superb and adding the extra element of a third guitar when needed to round out that unique hard rock sound.
With three albums under their belt now, there is less need to roll out the Thin Lizzy classic's, but as a nod to their foundations The Boys Are Back In Town shakes the building to its core, crowd bouncing and singing along. Scott seems to be enjoying himself as much today as he did when he first joined Phil Lynott on stage back in 1974, grinning from ear to ear as we race through a second hour of the show.
To round off a thoroughly rocking evening we are taken through Bound for Glory and Finest Hour, two now classic tunes from the Riders back catalogue. With one date remaining on the tour, anyone who missed them in Birmingham will have to wait a while before catching them again, but the wait will be worth it. By far and away the boys put on one of the best live shows you will ever see, everything you can ask for is delivered and then some!




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