Black Star Riders, live at the Genting Arena, Birmingham, December 12 2015

Rick Warwick, an inspired choice for front-man of BSR shows just why they should be playing arenas with Def Leppard and Whitesnake. ...


Review and Photo Credit: Adrian Hextall 

Thanks to a new, tighter security policy in light of the recent Paris attacks, entry into Birmigham’s Genting Arena is not an easy one. Multiple checks, scans, bag searches all result in the queues stretching a long way out of the arena and down the pathways as opening act of the night Black Star Riders take to the stage. It’s a shame that whoever has put together the (necessary) security checks didn’t think to open the doors earlier to process all of the concert goers so that the majority can get in to see a band with BSR’s pedigree in full.


Even as accredited press, our passes and entry is slowed down and we get into the arena after Ricky Warwick & Co. have already taken to the stage, leaving us approximately one and a half songs to shoot the band before being escorted back out of the pit so that we can then watch the show from the main standing area.

The one and a half songs do however give me time to get up close and personal with the band and the time is well spent observing a well oiled machine born from the ashes of Thin Lizzy. Rebranding themselves to Black Star Riders was an inspired decision as their two album portfolio sounds great and although (naturally) there are Thin Lizzy covers dotted throughout, the material on offer from their own catalogue, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, ‘The Killer Instinct’, ‘Bound for Glory‘ and ‘Kingdom of the Lost’ sound fantastic and perfectly at home on the big arena stages.

The history of the band and the quality of musicianship on offer almost dictates that this is the sort of venue they should be playing and they do not disappoint. Rick Warwick was an inspired choice for front-man and it’s no surprise to find them on a tour with headliners Def Leppard given the collaborations he and Joe Elliott have worked on over the years. The whole night feels like a family reunion with the ‘best of British’ on offer proving that no one does it better.

Whilst Warwick is a whirlwind on stage, flying around with his acoustic guitar for most of the set, Gorham and Damon Johnson either side of him stalk and prowl the wide arena stage with Johnson especially pulling every guitarist shape in the book for a welcoming crowd. The T-bar shape of the stage allows a walkway which they stray into occasionally without really making full use of the space afforded to them.


The crowd, by song three are suitably warmed up and the inclusion of Jailbreak, a firm Thin Lizzy fan favourite, goes down extremely well. ‘Bound for Glory’ follows with its chant along chorus and lyrics that seem to sum up the night for the band who deserve to be heard loud and live;

I would’ve rebuilt Jericho,
For nights as good as this
Another shot of redemption,
And it’s taste in every kiss

The last two tracks from the set are what really set the crowd alight. One, a BSR original and my personal favourite is ‘Finest Hour’ another track with great lyrical content. They then finish (of course) with ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, the Thin Lizzy classic and a riff to die for.

It was a great way to open a great show and proof positive that these arena tours with 2 or 3 big name bands are great value for money and a guarantee of a good night out.


All Hell Breaks Loose
Are You Ready (Thin Lizzy cover)
The Killer Instinct
Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover)
Bound for Glory
Kingdom of the Lost
Finest Hour
Whiskey in the Jar (Thin Lizzy cover)

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Photo Credit: Adrian Hextall

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