Black Star Riders at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Thin Lizzy were one of the world’s most revered rock bands – their catchy guitar riffs, heavy metal overtones and anthemic choruses catapulted them to international renown. After the death of lead singer Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy have reformed in many guises, the number of past members well surpassing the initial quartet. Upon the collective decision that new material should be released under a different name “out of respect to Phil and the legacy he created,” Black Star Riders was born.
In support of their debut album All Hell Breaks Loose, Black Star Riders commenced the UK leg of their European tour at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Entering the stage to a deafening trumpet fanfare and framed by a set embezzled with BSR logos and a towering pin-up girl, it is clear that the night is a resurgence of the hedonic heydays of 70s rock.
The set kicks off with title track All Hell Breaks Loose, a fast-paced number with blaring bass and screeching guitar solos. In Bloodshot, echoes of Thin Lizzy are heard through twin guitar licks and jovial riffs, expertly executed by Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson. A strong Celtic vibe pervades Black Star Rider’s melodies, stemming from their Irish origins. Kingdom of the Lost builds this folk influence nicely with bouncing, hollow drums and a quick jig tempo. Bound for Glory gains the liveliest reaction from the crowd; exceptionally Lizzy-esque in style, it successfully merges heavy rock’s booming drums and rumbling guitar with tuneful melodies, allowing lead singer Rick Warwick – clad in cut-off denim and a leather cowboy hat – to exercise his swooping vocal inflections and gravelly sustains.
Scattered amid new material are some classics. A heavy version of Jailbreak brings the huge crowd to its most riotous, a cloud of plastic beer glasses hailing from the ceiling. Boys are Back in Town allows for a glorious sing-a-long, while Whisky in the Jar sees a remarkably dextrous bass solo from Marco Mendoza. Including these infamous rock classics in the set does prove a hindrance for the Riders. Despite producing some enjoyable rock tracks, when compared to Thin Lizzy’s past successes the shortcomings of the new material become blindingly clear.
Despite this, plenty of kudos should be given to the band. Leaving the Thin Lizzy name and the huge crowds that go with it was a brave step, and last night’s show only proves their tenacity as remarkable musicians and entertainers.
For further information and future events visit Black Star Riders’ website here.
Watch the video for Kingdom of the Lost here: