With the onset of February we are getting a little busier. 2nd, Protest The Hero, 6th Del Amitri, 9th Molly Hatchet, 14th Monster Magnet, 15th Dream Theater, 19th, Sons Of Icarus, 20th Skyclad, 25th Soulfly, 26th Cadillac Three

And maybe a couple more to be added.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

BLACK STAR RIDERS, The Dead Daisies, Western Sand @Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, 30/11/13 and Assembly, Leamington Spa 10/12/13

At Black Star Riders triumphant first ever gig, back in May, singer Ricky Warwick promised that we would see a lot more of them. 

This Autumn he proved that these were not mere words. BSR have undertaken the sort of tour that bands used to do. Criss crossing the country for a month - there are the three Midlands date for example. 

RTM points this out by way of explaining why we are seeing them twice in 10 days. Watching a band multiple times in the same tour is not something we often do, in fact we can only recall doing it for Iron Maiden, The Wildhearts and one more band before. That the other band was Thin Lizzy perhaps explains our devotion to the BSR cause. Before all that, though there are two support bands to watch and that forms part of the reason we are back again. 

In Wolverhampton we arrived too late to catch all but Western Sand's last song. We are able to see them in full in Leamington Spa. It's worth it too. 

Right now in Britain we are blessed with a decent crop of up and coming hard rockers. You can add the name Western Sand to that "ones to watch" listWith more of a southern type bent than many of their peers, the young foursome have much to commend. "Broken Bones" in particular is impress, but the entire half hour has the air of a band that has been given a dream chance and wants very much to take it. 

If Jim Stevens being the singer in INXS for two years after the death of Michael Hutchence may not automatically make The Dead Daisies a supergroup, then the fact that the guitarist was in Nine Inch Nails, the bassist is still in the Rolling Stones and the keyboard man GnR probably does.  
Having Richard Fortus, Darryl Jones and Dizzy Reed on stage however, counts for nothing if the songs don't grab you. The début album - given away free in Classic Rock - is ok without being superb and live at the Wulfrun they are much the same. 

Tonight in The Assembly they have to overcome the fact that Fortus' guitar doesn't work during in the opener, the ironically titled "It's Gonna Take Time".  "Lock And Load" is perhaps their best song, with it's laid back Black Crowes-esque verses and strident chorus, but it is intresting that TDD are already looking past their debut and onto album two. They take the opportunity to play three new songs, the pick of which "Face I Love" sees them moving into real Georgia Satellites areas. At this point, though, they are still not the sum of their parts. 

So, the Black Star Riders, then. As everyone who cares knows by now they emerged from the writing sessions for what was to be a new Thin Lizzy record, and decided to change their name.  
They've changed the setlist a little since that wonderful May night in Milton Keynes too, but they still start with their new album's brilliant title track, "All Hell Breaks Loose" is apt too, as both in Wolves and Leamington crowds are going mad for the band. 

The second song "Are You Ready" takes us back to Thin Lizzy. All the men on the stage, with the exception of drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, who we are told is feeling ill tonight, were in the last incarnation of the group. Anyone who saw their couple of years as Lizzy knows how excellent they were, and how Ricky Warwick and guitarist Damon Johnson (who between them wrote much of "...Loose"had invigorated the whole thing, BSR benefit from that too.  

This is not some band that is resting on its laurels, playing some greatest hits set on a reformation tour. This is a hungry group with a lot to prove, and not even the return of the technical gremlins that robbed bass player Marco Mendoza of sound in "Southbound" can spoil things. 

Yes they play some Thin Lizzy songs (and why wouldn't they? They are after all some of the best songs ever written and Scott Gorham is on the stage) but there are seven new ones too.  
Throughout the whole glorious 90 minutes Warwick performs with such aplomb that you can only reflect that he was born to do this and has found the perfect vehicle for his talents. 

The last few songs they play at both gigs tell you all you need to know. BSR's fantastic "Bound For Glory" (surely the best song Phil Lynott never wrote) "Cowboy Song" and "The Boys Are Back In Town" give way to an encore of "Whiskey In The Jar" and "Rosalie" and really there isn't a better ending five tunes this year. 

So after both those gigs at the best  medium sized venues we have, what's the winner? Well for the supports, Leamington, for Black Star Riders, you can't argue with perfection, so we will go for that stunning night in at the Marshall Amps studio in MK, after all, no matter how many times you do it after, you never forget your first time, do you?

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