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Black Star Riders/Gun/The Amorettes
The Academy, Dublin, 4th March 2017

6th March 2017

brian boyle
Words: Brian Boyle, Pictures: Mike Daniels

black star riders

With their third album, 'Heavy Fire', going down a storm with the critics, the tight Thin Lizzy grip on the Black Star Riders is getting looser with every release. So for those who still foolishly think they're nothing more than a glorified tribute act, Gorham, Warwick and co are now armed with enough artillery to blow that lethargic theory to smithereens.

Scottish lasses The Amorettes are no strangers to sharing a Dublin stage with the Black Star Riders. A couple of years ago they severely shook the 138-year-old foundations of the nearby Olympia Theatre and fed and watered on a sumptuous diet of classic rock, they pretty much had the same effect tonight.

A 7.00pm start on a Saturday is never an easy slot, especially in Dublin, the largest pub in the world where I'm afraid a lot of the time the vast majority only drag themselves from the comfort of their bar stools just in time for the headliner but a healthy bunch gathered to see this high octane trio pummel out their no nonsense caustic rock.

Leading the line brilliantly is Gill Montgomery, who sounds like she regularly downs razor blade smoothies, such is the anarchic rasp of her voice and her dominating axework on blistering opener 'Stealing Thunder' quickly woke up a few subdued punters.

Mainly banging out new material in the thirty-minute set, the intensity never let up as all action bassist Heather McKay covered a serious amount of ground with enough shapes that would make Steve Harris think about retirement.

The fantastic 'White Russian Roulette' kept the ever growing attendance nooding harder with each chord struck and they crowned their whistle stop set with the always lively 'Hot And Heavy' that went down as good as the Guinness. Do yourself a favour, never under any circumstances miss an opportunity to see The Amorettes live.

black star riders

The last time I saw Gun in Dublin, their situation was a lot different. They were then supporting Def Leppard on their 'Seven Day Weekend' tour in Dublin's Point Theatre (now the 3Arena) and riding high in the charts with second album 'Gallus'.That was 1992.

Fast forward twenty-five years and Gun are a changed animal. Gone are Mark Rankin and Scott Shields, Dante Gizzi hung up the bass and now plys his trade out front on lead vocals and on close inspection it seems like he relishes the role. Arriving on stage to AC/DC's 'It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll)' blaring over the PA, they immediately stamped their authority with opener 'Let It Shine' and those familiar with the band didn't have to wait long for their money shot material.

When Jools Gizzi hammered out the riff to 'Word Up', pints were raised aloft and a mini dad dancing competition commenced. 'Don't Say It's Over' was a bit of a damp squib compared to it's predecessor but signature tune 'Better Days' brought the nostalgic mood straight back up while new song, 'She Knows', off their forthcoming new album went down surprisingly well.

Dante Gizzi and his live wire brother Jools gave it everything and it rubbed off straight away on the crowd. They finished their set in a blaze of glory with a full throttle version of The Beastie Boys' '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)' that brought the house down. Even the stage security guy, who was doing his best to look like a hard bastard throughout the set, was smiling approvingly.

On this evidence Gun are fully reloaded.

black star riders

Before Black Star Riders went to work, US comedian and Thin Lizzy nut Don Jamieson unexpectedly took to the stage to pass on Philomena Lynott's best wishes to the crowd. A nice touch that was duly appreciated with deafening applause.

Although there's not a Dubliner in the band, this city will always be the spiritual home of the Black Star Riders. We all know the history, just walk ten minutes south of the River Liffey to Harry Street and you'll feast your eyes on the world famous statue of Phil Lynott, the man who's genius is responsible for all this.

But with an arsenal of over thirty songs BSR are now properly standing on their own two feet and don't feel the obligation to douse their set with Lizzy classics.

black star riders

With this being the fourth date of the tour, you could have forgiven them if the new songs had not not properly roadworthy yet but not a chance; after the siren intro, new album title track 'Heavy Fire' blasted the crowd straight between the eyes, teeing up a night of hard rock orgasma.

Not tempting fate, the more familiar 'Bloodshot' and 'The Killer Instinct' kept their disciples well onside before another newbie, 'Dancing With The Wrong Girl', gave another shot of their ever expanding live independence.

The always reliable 'Soldierstown' signalled a furore of crowd bouncing with it's intense Celtic vibes and out of all the barely touched material, 'When The Night Comes In' was a unanimous winner, radio darling 'Testify Or Say Goodbye' naturally got a gracious welcome, but the former delivered a real sweet punch.

black star riders

Although always looking primed and ready for action, Ricky Warwick looked to have an extra bit of lead in his pencil tonight. Of course, on familiar ground having lived in nearby Ringsend, might have had something to do with it as he went the whole nine yards on every track and you could still see the young rock fan in him every now and then when he'd give an obvious awestruck glance at his Commander In Chief Scott Gorham.

The Californian is still the epitome of cool as his titanic riffery on the Gibson still continues to hold the masses captive. Having traded licks over the years with Brian Robertson, Gary Moore and John Skyes, his partnership with Damon Johnson is as good as it gets.

Despite 'The Boys are Back In Town' being played to death on Irish radio, it still gave the crowd the blue pill effect and kept them going all night while 'Heavy Fire''s 'Who Rides The Tiger' and 'Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed' already sound like they were purpose built for live consumption but it was oldies 'Bound For Glory' and 'Finest Hour' that had the crowd in total rapture as the band pumped out a blistering ending.

If this was the glorious 80s ,when rock ruled the planet, the all important third album would've catapulted BSR to mega global success so I hope everyone in The Academy truly appreciated what an honour it was to witness such a mesmerising recording and live act in such close proximity.

A magical night.


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black star riders

The Amorettes setlist:
Stealing Thunder
Let The Neighbours Call The Cops
Come 'n' Get It
White Russian Roulette
Give 'Em Hell
Hot And Heavy

Gun setlist:
Let It Shine
Word Up
Don't Say It's Over
Better Days
Hold Your Head Up
She Knows
Steal Your Fire
Shame On You
(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)

Black Star Riders setlist:
Heavy Fire
The Killer Instinct
Dancing With The Wrong Girl
Hey Judas
When The Night Comes In
Cold War Love
All Hell Breaks Loose
The Boys Are Back In Town
Hoodoo Voodoo
Who Rides The Tiger
Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed
Testify Or Say Goodbye
Kingdom Of The Lost
Bound For Glory
Finest Hour

Black Star Riders drummer Jimmy Degrasso and Dante Cizzi of Gun will be playing at this very special event at The Lounge, Archway on 21st March.

black star riders

Black Star Riders remaining tour dates:
Tuesday 7th March: Ironworks, Inverness*
Wednesday 8th March: O2 ABC, Glasgow
Thursday 9th March: O2 ABC, Glasgow
Friday 10th March: O2 Academy, Newcastle
Saturday 11th March: O2 Academy, Leeds
Sunday 12th March: O2 Ritz, Manchester
Tuesday 14th March: Rock City, Nottingham
Wednesday 15th March: UEA, Norwich
Thursday 16th March: O2 Academy Bristol
Friday 17th March: O2 Kentish Town Forum, London
Saturday 18th March: O2 Institute, Birmingham
Sunday 19th March: O2 Academy, Bournemouth

* with The Amorettes and Gun, all other dates with Backyard Babies and Gun: Tickets are on sale right here.

More Brian Boyle right here...


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