Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Rock veterans Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson recently completed their ”Sonic Acoustic Attack Tour”. A mixture of acoustic and spoken word shows across the UK and Europe has seen them featuring career-spanning classics from Thin Lizzy, The Almighty, Black Star Riders, Alice Cooper, Brother Cane, alongside anecdotes and stories taken from the artists’ life on the road.
Before the tour commenced Damon dropped the bombshell that he would be leaving the band he co-founded; Black Star Riders. Whatever the reasons for leaving a band, it typically makes things a little bit strained, with former members often taking time out before working together again. Yet the comments on quotes from Warwick on losing his band mate in BS were nothing short of brotherly and wonderful to see.
“Damon Johnson is my bro and I love him. It’s been a wonderful journey for the last 6 years writing, recording and playing live with him, molding, building and making Black Star Riders into the formidable force that we have become. I totally respect his decision, he will always be family. I will miss him.”
Johnson’s reasons for going seem perfectly reasonable: “3 excellent albums in 6 years with this great band is one of the proudest achievements of my career, and it has been glorious. My family and I have decided to focus our efforts into growing my solo career and I’m excited to be home more to take advantage of working and writing in Nashville. Though I’m moving on from BSR, I will continue to work with Ricky in “Warwick Johnson”, and plan on being a part of any Thin Lizzy commitments in the future. Much love and continued success to the entire band and to the incredible Black Star Riders fans worldwide.”
With Warwick clearly on board and willing to work with his brother in arms, the tour took them to Dingwalls in London and a show that opened with The Amorette’s front woman, Gill Montgomery playing alongside Wayward Sons guitarist Sam Wood.
Gill Montgomery / Sam Wood
An energised set that put a whole new spin onto music that we normally expected to be performed by a power trio, complemented by the McKay sisters, the acoustic pairing of Montgomery and Wood really worked well. Unexpected it may be with Sam normally seen full electric with Wayward Sons but they warmed up a decent sized crowd who had turned up early enough to catch them.
Classic Amorettes tracks, given a new spin with Wood seemingly able to pull out of his acoustic some of the fastest and heaviest playing that would have typically seemed impossible to us mere mortals but it works and works well. Gill’s voice, in fine fettle, lifts the songs and without the power of the electric instruments behind the music, her vocals taken on a new lease of life as well. Great stuff.
Warwick – Johnson
American guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Damon Johnson, began his career in the 90’s, when he co-founded Brother Cane. Johnson went on to collaborate with the likes of Stevie Nicks, Ted Nugent and Queensrÿche, before joining Alice Cooper’s band as lead guitarist. Since 2011 Damon had been the lead guitarist with Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders until his recent departure from the latter. Warwick of course has his own history, notably with The Almighty as well as some excellent solo material. With that level of source material to choose from, it’s not surprising that Johnson and Warwick have a wealth of songs from different times in their careers on offer during the show. It’s a shared effort between the pair and they clearly have a strong rapport between them that allows stories and conversations to bounce around, expanded upon by each musician as another segment of memory is brought to the fore.
When referring to the shows, Damon says: “Ricky has inspired my musical efforts in so many ways and we have become best mates. These Warwick Johnson performances always showcase our respect for each other and our love of music. And it’s a great night out!”
He’s not wrong, the friendship is clearly there, strong enough to bear Damon’s departure from BSR without any grudges and the twinkle in the pair’s eyes suggest they truly love getting on stage playing live together.
The song choices are explained with an anecdote or a quip and when Jailbreak is played, the roar of approval as fellow BSR guitarist and Thin Lizzy member Scott Gorham appears on stage suggests that the ticket price was justified for that one moment alone.
All in all, a great night out, proof that a well performed acoustic show is as powerful as a full electric set, if it’s done well. This was one of those nights.
Are You Ready (Thin Lizzy song)
The Killer Instinct (Black Star Riders song)
I’m Eighteen (Alice Cooper cover)
Born To Lose (Johnny Thunders cover)
Borderline (Thin Lizzy song)
Dancing With the Wrong Girl (Black Star Riders song)
Pontiac (Damon Johnson cover)
Finest Hour (Black Star Riders song)
Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young cover)
When the Night Comes In (Black Star Riders song)
Free ‘n’ Easy (The Almighty song)
Testify or Say Goodbye (Black Star Riders song)
Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy song) (with Scott Gorham)
Blindsided (Black Star Riders song)
Got No Shame (Brother Cane cover)
Wild & Wonderful (The Almighty song)
Kingdom of the Lost (Black Star Riders song)
Bound for Glory (Black Star Riders song)
Ace of Spades (Motörhead cover)
The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy song)
Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Whiskey In The Jar