One of the only benefits of old age is that I can look back with fondness and say things like I saw Thin Lizzy ten times and Philip`s band Grand Slam after they broke up. So, when I heard that Lizzy were getting back together I think I’d have been really pissed off if it had been anybody but Ricky Warwick who fronted them.
I saw and loved the Almighty and saw Ricky once fronting the re-vamped Lizzy but was delighted when they took on the Black Star Riders moniker. I have seen BSR a shed loads of times and to me in football terms they are a Premier League outfit and top of the pole for a Champions League place.
The band have a new album out called` Wrong Side Of Paradise` their fifth and It’s the first to be recorded without founder member Scott Gorham. As the editor of Maximum Volume Music related in his review `More Ricky Less Lizzy`.
I always think that this Newtownards born and Glasgow raised singer songwriter is one of the hardest working musicians around and he goes some way to prove this by promoting this new album with twenty in store appearances where he shares a few numbers off said album before heading on the road with the rest of the gang for a further dozen shows around the UK with BSR.
As with most of the in stores on this trek, this late afternoon session is sold out as this troubadour takes to the stage, says hello and heads straight into `Pay Dirt` where he expresses the touching sentiment of “my heart belongs to Belfast, my soul belongs to Glasgow”. As only this songwriter can do, he writes from personal experience and to me, this is why these numbers always resonate with you. We enjoy a further four cuts from the new release with the reflective `Riding Out The Storm`, `Better Than Saturday Night`, `Burning Rome` and `Wrong Side of Paradise`.
If you`ve been lucky enough to attend any of the Ricky and Damon Johnson roadshows you`ll know that this guy has stories to burn and is a natural born storyteller. Just before he shares what is my favourite track on the album `Better Than Saturday Night` he reveals that the inspiration behind the song is his fifteen year old daughter Pepper who is half Irish and half Texan, a volatile combination. The singer has been teaching her to drive and relates that one of his passions apart from guitars is cars and after a life time`s achievement he is the proud owner of a Ford Mustang which he is very protective of. The gist of the story is of his daughter taking said car out while he was at dinner with his wife and him only discovering this as it was parked at an angle. The song itself to me feels like BSR`s answer to Lizzy`s `Don`t Believe a Word` and I can`t wait to hear it with the full band.
After the quintet of new numbers, we enjoy a nod to Ricky`s formative band The Almighty with a rendition of `Free ‘n’ Easy` and a veiled reference to an announcement due out next month.
A stance is taken by the singer with his guitar slung low as Motörhead`s `Ace of Spades` blasts out with this intimate audience encouraged the sing the chorus, which we do but Ricky halts the song as our attempt is really lethargic and lacking in gusto so we go again and he`s finally satisfied.
This forty minute set closes out with one of my all time favourite BSR songs and their first single, `Bound for Glory` and I find it hard to believe that this song first appeared a decade ago.
As the applause dies down Ricky gets ready to meet and greet the faithful as I head off into the dark and rainy evening with a warm glow inside and a smile on my face.
There`s no better therapy to me than music that can lift your spirits and Ricky Warwick and Black Star Riders are the masters. How better could you spend a dank and wet afternoon in the UK`s second city than in the company of musical brilliance.
Black Star Riders head out on their tenth anniversary tour next month, if you haven`t bought the latest album and a ticket for a show already, I’d encourage you to do so as these guys will not disappoint.