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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Black Star Riders

Live in St Charles, Illinois, May 2014

Review by Greg Olma

A few years ago, Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, and Darren Wharton were joined by a few other players and toured as Thin Lizzy.  Ricky Warwick was recruited to take Phil Lynott’s place as frontman and all was very well and good until the prospect of recording new material came up.  Gorham did the admirable thing and decided to leave the Thin Lizzy legacy untouched and record and perform under a different name.  From the ashes of Thin Lizzy comes Black Star Riders.   The album they produced, All Hell Breaks Loose, is reviewed in this issue and for my money, is as close to a Thin Lizzy record as we are going to get at this point.

It was always going to be hard to tour under a new name yet knowing full well that people are going to come to the shows wanting to hear the classics.  I was surprised that many of the fans who showed up for the St Charles stop of the tour were just as happy to hear the new songs performed as they were with the older material.  The band also knew that the best way to approach the set list would be to mix in the new material to keep momentum at an even keel through the show.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma
Greg Olma

Black Start Riders started their set with the title track of their new CD but quickly jumped into Lizzy mode with “Are You Ready.”  From that point on they mixed the tunes one for one with playing a cut off of All Hell Breaks Loose and then delving into the vast Thin Lizzy catalogue.  Most of the new album was performed with only “Kissin’ The Ground,” “Someday Salvation,” “Before The War,” and “Blues Ain’t So Bad” not.  As far as Thin Lizzy songs goes, the band played a quite a few, but mainly sticking to their 70s output.  Half of the Lizzy material was culled from the Jailbreak record and they were the ones you would expect to hear; “Emerald,” “Cowboy Song,” “The Boys Are Back In Town” and the title track.  Aside from that you got “Massacre,” “Bad Reputation” and a few others.  The highlight for me was a very heavy and spirited version of “Whiskey in the Jar”.  I have seen and heard that track many times but the version they played in St Charles was by far the best.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma
Greg Olma

When I walked into the show, I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew they would play some Lizzy material but I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with the new material.  Part of me thought that Black Star Riders would perform the whole All Hell Breaks Loose record and a few of the Lizzy classics.  On the other hand, they could have given us a whole set of Thin Lizzy material and only played a couple of tunes off the new record, which would have been fine but would have stunted the growth of this new band.  After seeing the show, I have come to the conclusion that the band did themselves justice by building on the new record yet still letting people know from where they came.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at
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