Black Star Riders Live at the o2 Academy, Sheffield

It’s only been a few months since Black Star Riders last rattled round the venues of this fair isle, but there is no such thing as too much of a good thing here at CB, so on a cold, dark evening we set off across the Pennines to catch Ricky, Damon & Co. at the Sheffield Academy.

We arrived just in time to miss out of the opening band Dirty Thrills, which was not a great start to the evening. The place was still pretty empty so we weren’t alone in missing the unnaturally early start. Anyhoo, what we saw we really quite liked, can’t beat a well delivered slice of old school blues rock, especially from a band who promised us T shirts, CDs and a saucy joke at the merch stand afterwards.

Now the next band up came as something of a surprise, to say the least. The first impression of Tax The Heat was, well,  hipsters. Maybe we’ve missed the memo and velvet and tweed is the new denim and leather. Another band wed not caught before but it has to be said, they were brilliant. They treated us to a taster of their upcoming album, Change Your Position and certainly zoomed straight to the top of the “must check them out again soon” list.

Really, really enjoyed that.

The final support band on the overstuffed bill were one we do know well, and it was clear from the off that Blues Pills were a Sheffield favourite, and apparently we were Elin’s favourite crowd, but I suspect she says that to everyone. There aren’t many bands around today that channel the pure primordial essence of blues rock quite this well and as they don’t have a lot of time tonight there’s no messing about, we’re straight into Lady In Gold with Elin’s costume roadie effecting running repairs mid song before her modesty suffered.

High Class Woman indeed.

All too soon the Pills’ time was at an end, but they left us with Devil Man ringing in our ears to tide us over until next time.

And so on to the main event. The stage crew get things set up in double quick time and the cheer that goes up as the lights go down sent a shiver down the spine.. the good sort.. as All Hell Breaks Loose. This is, as Ricky Warwick tells us,  going to be a f’kin awesome night.

He’s not wrong.

God knows how many years since we first saw him (Edinburgh Venue, 30-odd years) Ricky remains the consummate Rock’n’Roll frontman. Not to be outdone in the “grabbing attention” stakes guitar hero Damon Johnston makes being uber cool look far too easy while to Ricky’s left Scott Gorham actually looks like he’s enjoying himself, don’t recall getting many shots of him smiling in the past.

Setlist wise, well it’s everything we could have wished for, Heavy Fire and Testify Or Say Goodbye being the pick of the new ones tonight. With a few albums under their collective belts now they have their own array of sure fire live barnstormers to draw on, and they’re all delivered with an intensity that almost dares you to look away. There’s the Black Star Riders classics and then there’s the others, you know, songs from the band Scott was in. The opening riff of Jailbreak saw the place basically erupt as EVERYONE sang EVERY word in what has to be the ultimate Rock’n’Roll karaoke.

Black Star Riders have always been bloody good live, but something has changed, because tonight they were frankly gig-of-the-year brilliant, and judging by the smiles all round on stage they know it. It was one of the nights that you just didn’t want to end, but alas it had to. How do they finish off a performance like that?

Well if you’ve seen the band before you know the answer to that. It’s a double punch that starts with Bound For Glory and finishes off, inevitably, with Whisky In The Jar.

Cue a(nother) massive sing-along to send the punters away happy.

Until next time guys !!