There’s a bit of a 2 way love affair going on tonight in a small village in Northern Ireland….an affair that began long before Ricky Warwick was recruited to front the re-energised Thin Lizzy, and the evoloution into Black Star Riders and the many plaudits from fans and critics alike for what Ricky has brought to the old Lizzy material, as well as the brilliant Black Star Riders album. Having finished the 9 week Black Star Riders European tour in Ricky’s home country, and before he heads back to his current “home” in California with his family, there’s time for an acoustic solo show in the intimate surroundings of The Diamond Rock Club, in Ahoghill, Northern Ireland. This venue has a growing reputation not just UK wide but worldwide now, with the bands its attracting, and I’d lay my money on it being the best small venue on the island of Ireland and possibly all of the UK!
Ricky has been a long time visitor to the venue (this is his 13th time!) especially during his solo touring days, in fact Ricky’s previous shows have become the stuff of legend….from taking the crowd out to the car park to continue a show when they hit curfew inside the venue, to having special guests from the likes of Therapy? and BSR cohort Damon Johnson jamming at previous shows.
So tonight kicked off with Ricky’s take on C’mon Everybody by Eddie Cochrane, and straight in to Lizzy’s Rosalie. With so much material at his disposal, The Almighty, solo stuff, Lizzy, BSR, one might wonder why the covers, but Ricky’s always been a man who likes to let you know where he came from, and he’s openly admitted before during The Almighty days on the tour bus, the other guys may have been listening to Slayer, but he’d have had Springsteen or Johnny Cash on his headphones! Solo wise we’re treated to a superb rendition of the title track of his 3rd album, Belfast Confetti, complete with crowd sing a long, infact there weren’t too many songs tonight the crowd didn’t sing along to! I’ve already mentioned the “love affair” between Ricky and The Diamond crowd, perfectly demonstrated when between songs someone from the audience requests Throwin Dirt and Ricky agrees, with the proviso that everyone realises he hasn’t played it in well over a year so apologies for any mistakes….if there were any I think the crowd were too busy singing along to notice!
It was great to hear the Black Star Riders material stripped back tonight, Kingdom of The Lost, Hey Judas and Bound for Glory complete with crowd backing vocals, all sounding fantastic. I’ve seen Ricky solo many times over the last 10 years and 1 song from The Almighty back catalogue that he’s never played is Little Lost Sometimes, well tonight as a tribute to 2 Almighty road crew personnel who recently passed away and we’re treated to a rousing version. Almighty classics Wild and Wonderful along with Free n Easy give the crowd something to shout about before we dip into a slightly unpredictable cover! Asking the crowd “Should I or shouldn’t I?” of course we’re always going to say DO IT! Oops I Did It Again by Britney elicits a few laughs but a definite sing a long, while one audience member, in a bit of banter with Ricky, ridicules him for playing it. Ricky offers to let her sing it, but she politely declines!
A normal solo set usually includes Ace of Spades and Running Free covers, and tonight is no exception, perhaps the biggest surprise (given he had played Oops on a few earlier solo shows) was Kenny Rodgers The Gambler…..it brought your reviewer back to his childhood, being tortured by Country and Western loving parents, was great fun last night though!
Towards the end of the set we’re treated to Lizzy classics, Whiskey In The Jar and Boys Are Back In Town, with the crowd voicing all the lead guitar riffs while Ricky played rhythm. It’s a week before Christmas, fun was always going to be the name of the game tonight, and fun it was for both the crowd and artist on stage, anyone expecting a note perfect, scripted set list, would have definitely been looking in the wrong place, the love affair continues!
Footnote – Ricky told us last night that 2014 should see The Almighty reissues, maybe some live dates, not one but 2 new solo albums, AND a new Black Star Riders album being written….someone is going to be very busy!