Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: © Denys Jaime
This Father’s Day was something memorable and it rocked unlike any other. This faithful editor finally got a chance to leave the friendly confines of MGM headquarters and hit the road for the amazing Black Star Riders, the Thin Lizzy spirited revival, featuring the great Scott Gorham, former Lizzy vocalist Ricky Warwick, guitarist Damon Johnson, bass extraordinaire Marco Mendoza, and the thunder of Jimmy DeGrasso on battery. Despite running a successful online rock magazine like Myglobalmind, I don’t always get a chance to check out the live gigs in comparison to the great writers and photographers that usually are regular MGM contributors. Make no beef about it however, there is nothing like a live rock concert, despite how many fans are there. This live date in Birmingham, 2 hours away from our current home was just a solid spot to check out. When BSR announced the North American tour, I just knew I had to check them out. Thankfully in part to our links in the industry, we we’re granted guest list/photo and aftershow passes and we we’re very grateful indeed.
Along for this rock night was my lovely lady, because she has been kind enough to put up with my rock craziness through the years. I was grateful she decided to rock with us as well and enjoy this Father’s Day, which is a day that, for personal reasons, can be quite melancholy for me. We left home pretty early, so when we got there the area was pretty dead. Actually, nobody was there except the tour bus parked outside of Workplay. This gave us a chance to get some grub, walk around downtown Birmingham, and then head back to the venue. Obviously being there early gave us a chance to confirm our guest list spot (the touring manager worked with us very well), and after waiting a while in the lobby people started to slowly pack in.
After buying a few souvenirs, including a BSR t-shirt, we went inside and patiently waited for the opening band Leaderdog. The local opener was not too bad, in fact they manage to rock out and provide an enthusiastic atmosphere, despite the place still not even half full. These guys pack a nice punch, great hard rock/rock with a touch of modern hooks. Lead singer Dave Bowman performed admirably, the guitar player duo combo was also solid. These guys won’t reinvent the wheel, but if you like your hard rock modern, melodic, and with a punch, check them out in the local rocks scene in Birmingham. After a short set, the crowd slowly packed in finally and despite the big names in the band, the show was undersold, perhaps the turnout was because of a Sunday night on Father’s Day.
After sound techs make their way to arrange equipment for the guys, I quickly make my way to the front and get a glimpse at the set list (yeah, I cheated, but I didn’t remember half of it after 5 minutes). I manage to get a spot in front of Ricky’s mike and from that point on, this night would become memorable.
As a longtime fan of Thin Lizzy, this was a one in a lifetime chance to hear someone like Scott Gorham played live. It was just an honor with all the history, the countless hits, the great licks, and the memory of Phil always not far behind; he would not disappointed one bit. The guys opened up the night with their first single of their debut “All Hell Breaks Loose”, a tight number that has a catchy riff and chorus. Ricky is in fine fashion here as he comes on stage and rocks out with fierce energy and charisma. Next we follow with the first Lizzy throwback as “Are You Ready” brings back that old classic rock sound, no matter the age and how many years it’s been, those Gorham licks are still there, just perfect. Another favorite off BSR’s debut is “Before the War”; it plays very well live, as it’s an intense little number which sounds even better in person. The unforgettable “Jailbreak” is next and that classic always lives up to its bill. There’s nothing more to say on that, all the guys just drill this one with great execution. The highlight of the night for me was “Southbound”, a track that the only time I had heard live, was on the famous “Live and Dangerous” record by Thin Lizzy.Ricky does a great job on acoustic and the dual guitars of Damon and Scott are on point, great experience to listen to this lovely classic in this live setting.
After a couple of other BSR songs, we get the attack of “Emerald” the twin guitars again and the stylistic lyrics of this one tune, always gets me. Not to mention the sound at Workplay Theater this night was tremendous, making these songs stand out even more. For the encore the boys come back play “Whiskey in the Jar” the famous Irish song that has been covered by so many bands, a wise tune to use as an encore. Lastly we are left with “Rosalie”, another crowd favorite.
A great night that would get even better as crowed cleared, since we were able to stay for aftershow access. Damon Johnson first came out and greeted us, a very nice man, telling us a story about how he got married at the Workplay Theater; who has been an Alabama resident for number of years; so his family and friends were all there to greet him aftershow. Ricky Warwick came out as well, and he was kind enough to share some thoughts about our online magazine which he knows very well, the reaction to BSR debut record, the support, and a bit of a turn down in reference to audience numbers. In this day and age, it’s hard for a rock star to make a living. Good news is that the Riders will begin recording a sophomore release shortly after taking a break this fall upon completion of their UK tour. There wasn’t anything to complain about as this Sunday night was nothing but a great time, reminding me how much I missed getting out to see live gigs. If you get a chance to check the Black Star Riders, please do. You won’t be let down. This group is a bunch of great professionals doing what they do best, rocking live with passion and integrity. Must see!!!