Following a selection of anniversary dates under the Thin Lizzy moniker, Scott Gorham, Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson returned to the studio with Black Star Riders late last year. The resultant album, ‘Heavy Fire’, came out last month and hit the number six spot in the UK Album Charts. No small feat for a classic rock band in 2017! Inevitably with a new album, comes a tour and that’s exactly what brings us to the UEA LCR in Norwich on this fine evening.
First up on stage tonight are Scottish hard rockers Gun, whose current incarnation do a good job of warming up the audience. They break out Cameo cover ‘Word Up!’ early in their set to the delight of the crowd, before pushing through the likes of ‘Better Days’ and ‘Steal Your Fire’. It’s a good start to what promises to be a great night of classic rock.
Next up and continuing to build up the atmosphere are Sweden’s own Backyard Babies. The band deliver a quick burst of sleazy punk rock that seems to have half the venue enthralled and the other half trying to figure out what they are watching. For all involved though it’s an action packed performance that keeps the momentum going before our headliners take to the stage.
As mentioned at the start, Thin Lizzy returned for an anniversary run of shows including Ramblin’ Man Fair last year. Once those commitments were fulfilled Gorham, Warwick and Johnson rejoined with drummer Jimmy DeGrasso and bassist Robbie Crane to record what is Black Star Riders’ third studio album since forming when the last incarnation of Thin Lizzy decided they wanted to record new material.
The decision to create Black Star Riders has been justified many times over by this point, but surely the strong charting of ‘Heavy Fire’ serves as the icing on the cake. Tonight therefore it should be no surprise when the band start their set with the title track itself before launching into ‘Bloodshot’ and the brilliant ‘The Killer Instinct’. The band have earned a hardcore following of fans and the venue tonight is fully with the band from the opening note, singing along to every word.
The night continues at some pace as the band tear through ‘Dancing With The Wrong Girl’, ‘Soldierstown’ and ‘Hey Judas’. There is an impressive back catalogue now in Black Star Riders, especially considering they have only been an entity for around 5 years. Perhaps there is a feeling of making up for lost time, due to the initial reluctance to record under the Thin Lizzy name.
The faith in this body of work is made evidently clear this evening as we get ‘When The Night Comes In’, ‘Cold War Love’ and ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ before the band deliver Thin Lizzy classic ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. Thus far in the bands life, they have mixed original material with Thin Lizzy numbers, even to a 50/50 ratio in the early days. The fact that tonight ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ is the only Thin Lizzy track tells its own story.
The reception to ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ is of course great but thankfully for the band it doesn’t evaporate for the likes of ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’, ‘Who Rides The Tiger’ or ‘Blindsided’. With the clock ticking towards the curfew the band show no signs of fatigue and continue to ply the audience with their finest efforts including ‘Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed’, ‘Testify Or Say Goodbye’ and ‘Kingdom Of The Lost’.
There’s no time for encores tonight, but the band still have time to deliver two of their greatest tracks in early single ‘Bound For Glory’ and the aptly titled ‘Finest Hour’. This has after all been their finest hour (technically an hour and a half, but go with it) as they have proven that they belong on stage, rocking out with their dedicated fans. It’s been a fine evening of classic rock, with three decent performances but truly this night belongs to Black Star Riders.