Published: 06/12/2013 17:26 - Updated: 06/12/2013 17:43

REVIEW: Black Star Riders

Black Star Riders are back in town. Credit:Callum Mackay
Black Star Riders are back in town. Credit:Callum Mackay

Black Star Riders/The Dead Daisies

The Ironworks

Inverness

IF The Dead Daisies were a car, you would see on the back one of those stickers saying: "My other car is..."

Change that to "my other band" and The Daisies could legitimately change that to INXS. Or Guns ’n’ Roses. Or The Rolling Stones. For a support act at The Ironworks, The Dead Daisies certainly come with an impressive pedigree.

New Zealand frontman Jon Stevens was picked by the surviving members of INXS to fill the vacancy of lead singer left by Michael Hutchence, lead guitarist Richard Fortus and keyboard player Dizzy Reed served time in both Guns ’n’ Roses and the post-Phil Lynott Thin Lizzy, while Darryl Jones fills the bass player vacancy in The Rolling Stones left by Bill Wyman.

That is quite a lot of talent to pack into a fairly cramped space at the front of The Ironworks’ stage — the back being occupied by the headliners Black Star Riders’ equipment.

The blokey Stevens certainly seemed to feel in need of more room to move, protesting that there was no room to swing a cat before chucking his tambourine into the crowd.

Perhaps that had an effect on the band’s performance. Musically The Dead Daisies seem to have dipped into the AC/DC playbook with a gritty dirty blues sound and Fortus’s flashy guitar licks, but it was only with the closing song, The Beatles’ Helter Skelter, that the band really burst into life, Stevens energetically leaping across as much of the stage as he could as the band brought their set to a crashing climax.

Of course, Black Star Riders have a pretty impressive rock pedigree of their own.

Bass player Marco Mendoza even played with The Dead Daisies, as well as Whitesnake and Ted Nugent among others.

But it is Thin Lizzy which is the dominant strand in the band’s DNA, most of the members coming straight from the current incarnation of the Irish rock band, even if guitar-slinger Scott Gorham is the only link to its Phil Lynott fronted heyday.

So it should not have surprised anyone that crowd-pleasing Thin Lizzy tunes formed a respectable proportion of the headliners’ set.

The rest were songs from the band’s debut album, All Hell Breaks Loose.

Fortunately they did not seem too out of place alongside Lizzy classics like Jailbreak or Cowboy Song, the latter an obvious choice given the new unit’s name was borrowed from the western Tombstone.

Frontman Ricky Warwick works The Ironworks. Pic: Callum Mackay
Frontman Ricky Warwick works The Ironworks. Pic: Callum Mackay

Even if frontman Ricky Warwick’s choice of headgear looked more piratical than western, the band do give off the tough guy camaraderie of an outlaw gang, especially in those moments when the guitarists huddled together as they rocked out at the front of the stage, sharing the easy chemistry of a group of rock veterans playing at the top of their game.

Belfast boy Warwick may be the only non-American, but the presence of charismatic former Almighty frontman means that Black Star Riders, like Thin Lizzy, have an Irish heart, making the anthemic Celtic soul of new song Kingdom of The Lost a good match for Lizzy standard Emerald.

That Celtic strand looks to have rubbed off on Warwick’s colleagues with Damon Johnson emerging alone at the start of the encore for a rocked up version of Wild Mountain Thyme and then apparently put Black Star Riders in the referendum Yes camp with Flower of Scotland, leading nicely into Irish ballad and early Thin Lizzy hit Whiskey in The Jar. They stuck to the Thin Lizzy songbook for the last few songs, Warwick belatedly shaming watchers in the gallery to get to their feet.

"Your couch is waiting for you at home," he chided them.

"Rock and roll isn’t supposed to be comfortable."

He left the stage with the promise that the boys will be back in town in future and it is a dead cert bet that the audience who packed out The Ironworks will be there to see them.

CM

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