Black Star Riders | Tax The Heat | Monster Jaw
Preston 53 Degrees
5th August 2014
Arising from the ashes of Thin Lizzy under the direction and inspiration of distinguished guitarist Scott Gorham, Black Star Riders are fast establishing themselves as a classic hard rock act in their own right.
Despite being billed by the venue’s website as “Black Star Riders (Thin Lizzy)”, surely it’s time to give the band both a break and the credit they deserve for developing their own identity beyond their origins as a Lizzy -based act. There’s no doubt that they’ve paid their dues and earned their spurs in their natural habitat – the live arena, where they’ve gigged solidly around the release of an impressively consistent debut album. Not only that, these boys work their socks off. There’s a new album in the works (produced by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot) and tour already lined up for 2015 alongside fellow melodic rockers Europe, yet the current tour is taking them to a few venues not on the regular touring trail for bands of their status.
Hence the upstairs room at Preston’s 53 Degrees venue proved a rather more compactly sized and reduced capacity than they may have been used to, nonetheless it offered a hot and sweaty club type environment where the distance between band and audience was kept to a minimum making for an intimate gig as the band could see into the whites of their fans eyes. As frontman Ricky Warwick owned up, “There’s no f***ing room up her and there’s no f***ing room down there but we don’t care!”
In fact it was Warwick who again provided much of the focus and who is revelling in his role as not only frontman/singer/occasional guitarist but in stepping up to the plate as a genuine leader and brushing off all those early days comments about how much he sounds like Phil Lynott. With his cajoling of the crowd, the fist pumping and endangering everyone on stage with his triumphant mic stand twirling, he’s proving himself to be a man of the people whilst leading a people’s band.
Although the low ceiling and narrow auditorium meant for quite a muddy mix, the classic twin guitar leads of the now distinguished greying goateed (and rather Robert Plant looking) Gorham and his latest partner in crime, Damon Johnson, still stood proud, punctuating the rhythm section which tonight included a new member of the Black Star Riders family in Robbie Crane. A recent replacement for Marco Mendoza who’s taken a stint with The Dead Daisies (incidentally, touring partners of Black Star Riders last December – maybe a bit of head hunting going down?) he took the usual bassist position, literally in the shadows, more by necessity than choice, leaving Warwick and the guitarists to step on their wah-wah pedals to deliver that distinctive trademark sound.
Among their 100 minute set, there’s not a duff song; only the ‘Bad Reputation’ album’s mid paced ‘Southbound’ gave any relief from an onslaught based around the BSR album and inevitably peppered with classics from the Lizzy canon. The Celtic-flavoured romp which is ‘Kingdom Of The Lost’ sits perfectly alongside the established Irish nuances of ‘Emerald’ and, of course, the last half hour saw the inevitable tour de forces dusted off and paid due respect in a finish akin to a sprint down the home straight.
Also on the bill were young northern trio, alt-grunge rockers Monster Jaw who made the most of a chance to share a stage with the masters and another impressive support act in Tax The Heat. Out on tour again later this month with Graveltones and in September with Virginmarys, they’re already attracting quite a bit of media attention. They deliver a style of besuited blues-based rock which the likes of Rival Sons are currently heading to stunning effect. Their short set gave warning that they’re a band to mark down as one for the future and with their support slot with the Warwick gang, they have a model for how it should be done.