THE last time Ricky Warwick appeared at The Ironworks, the former lead singer of The Almighty was filling the role of frontman of Thin Lizzy in the place of the late Phil Lynott.
This week, although he will be back with Thin Lizzy bandmates Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson and Marco Mendoza, it will be as Black Star Riders, playing new original material and not just the Thin Lizzy classics.
There is one change to the line-up, with Lizzy drummer Brian Downey making way for former Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth and Ozzy Osbourne drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, leaving lead guitarist Gorham the only remaining member from Lynott-era Thin Lizzy — and Northern Irish-born Warwick as the only non-American in the group’s ranks.
"It’s a really unique situation. I can’t think of any band that’s been in the situation we are in," Warwick said.
"I think it is a new band, but it is a continuation. We have a different drummer in Jimmy DeGrasso and he brings a lot of power and energy to the band, but the chemistry between myself, Scott, Damon and Marco has been there for a few years now.
"Things were going so well, we were just really waiting for the nod from Scott and Brian to start writing and they also felt the time was right."
Those songs came very close to being released under the Thin Lizzy name, but Warwick revealed the band had a change of heart.
"The songs were sounding great, but as it got closer to the actual recording date, we started thinking: Hang on — this is the first Thin Lizzy album without Phil and the first Thin Lizzy album in 30 years, maybe this is a little bit of a step too far," he said.
"As a fan as well, my heart was telling me it was a bit of a bad thing to do. It was brought up, and once we did, there was a bit of a sigh of relief. Brian also realised there was a lot of work involved in the new album and probably double the touring that had already been done. He just felt it wasn’t for him at his stage of life.
"We felt the stuff was good, but we didn’t want to do it under the Thin Lizzy moniker. Once we’d agreed on that, I felt the load was lifted a little bit off me. There wasn’t just one road we had to go down in the writing process."
Not that this is a radical re-invention of the band’s sound. As Warwick pointed out, the Thin Lizzy influence remains a key part of the Black Star Riders’ make-up.
"You are never going to change Scott Gorham, and why would you? He’s a bit of a legend," Warwick said.
"That will always be a part of Black Star Riders and we want to incorporate that with our own sound, which we are starting to do with our first album. We won’t lose our Thin Lizzy identity, but we can try different stuff out. It’s the best situation to be in. It’s fantastic to look down the set list and see a Black Star Riders’ song followed by Jailbreak or Cowboy Song."
So Thin Lizzy fans can be assured that they will still hear some of their favourites during the new look band’s Ironworks set.
"We’ve only done one album, so we don’t have enough songs to fill a set, but we’ll always play Thin Lizzy songs," Warwick announced.
"The fans expect it and we love playing those songs as well and they stand up fantastically alongside our new record. It’s a great mixture that we have. It’s early days yet, but it doesn’t feel like there’s any dip in quality when we play a Black Riders’ song alongside a Thin Lizzy song."
• Black Star Riders at The Ironworks, Academy Street, Inverness, on Thursday 5th December. Support comes from Dead Daisies.