[LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS] Black Star Riders, O2 Academy Leeds, 11/03/2017

Black Star Riders
Black Star Riders playing O2 Academy Leeds

Black Star Riders are currently on tour, promoting their newly released album, ‘Heavy Fire’, which sees BSR move even further away from their Thin Lizzy sound of old, and into a new era of individuality. Tonight the BSR guys are playing the O2 Academy Leeds, with Backyard Babies and Gun in support. Gun, who I surprisingly had never seen before, played a magnificent 30 minute set, with a mixture of old and new songs. From the opener ‘Let It Shine’, a gritty rock song, with it’s overlay of gospel influences, to the closing song ‘Shame on You’, there was clearly a small, but a hardcore sing along army of Gun fans in the audience tonight. A great band, who I’ll definitely be checking out again live, in the future.

The Backyard Babies are a band who I’ve been listening to for a while now, and the band who I’ve have been itching to see live for sometime, didn’t disappoint tonight. ‘Th1rt3en or Nothing’, from Backyard Babies latest album ‘Four by Four’, detonated the explosive charge of guitars and cowbells, as the Backyard Babies took to the stage. Speaking with Nicke Borge earlier in the day, it’s clear that his passion, enthusiasm, and his abundance of energy, when he talks about his music, transfers into the bands live performances. Backyard Babies rocked a back catalogue of gems tonight, with the likes of ‘Dysfunctional Professional’, ‘Nomadic’, and ‘The Clash’, with a couple of newer tracks thrown in, from ‘Four by Four’. Great songs and great performers, Nicke, Dregen and the guys left me wishing I’d seen them many times before. My favourite band tonight!

With the blast of air raid sirens around O2 Academy Leeds, leading Black Star Riders into the new album title track, ‘Heavy Fire’, there must surely have been some initial anticipation from the BSR guys, in respect to how the crowd would react to such an abundance of new material tonight. To furnish any setlist with so many new songs could be seen as a gamble. Did the gamble pay off, of course it did.

Ricky Warwick just oozes ‘rock star’ appeal as a frontman, as he hammers through a succession of BSR anthems, from the likes of ‘Bloodshot’, ‘The Killer Instinct’, and ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. Even though I’ve seen the Black Star Riders numerous times live, I still never get bored watching Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson knock out some awesome guitar solos tonight. It’s a well known fact that Damon has always been a huge Lizzy and Scott Gorham fan, and the expression on Damon’s face every time he stands and plays next to Scotty, says it all, in that he’s clearly a man full of envy for the master. The songs from the new record, which seemed to be peppered mostly into the middle of the setlist, also brag some potential anthem rights. ‘When the Night Comes In’, ‘Dancing With the Wrong Girl’, ‘Testify or Say Goodbye’, and ‘Heavy Fire’, all had the crowd singing, clapping and punching the air tonight.

It’s a testament to the bands credentials as exceptional song writers, that the crowd already seem to be so familiar with such new tunes. Black Star Riders are always a very tight band live, and tonight was no exception, with Robbie Crane on bass, and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso being the glue that holds the band together, with their stupendously great timing. Although the BSR lads are getting to the point were they are playing less Lizzy material on their setlist, and including more of their own material, it still wouldn’t be the same without ‘The Boys are Back in Town’. It’s always going to be a crowd favourite and tonight was no exception. Black Star Riders played to a packed crowd of impressed fans tonight. Not just impressed by how good BSR are, as a live band, but also impressed by the bravery of churning out, and including so many new songs into their setlist tonight. Tonight was one of my favourite gigs of the year, so far. If you haven’t seen Black Star Riders live yet, go check them out, as they are in my opinion one of the best live bands on the circuit.

Review written by Shayne Friessner-Day
Photography by Shayne Friessner-Day

Written by Shayne

Uk based freelance photographer, with a love for all things music and photography.

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