Black Star Riders set to rock Cambridge Junction
A band that was spawned from the legacy of the legendary Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders (BSR) are now in a league of their own.
The Lizzy connection remains solely with guitarist Scott Gorham, the only surviving member from one of the most successful rock bands of its genre, while BSR have, in three albums, managed to become a stand out act within the industry.
Their latest album, Heavy Fire, released in February this year, peaked at number six in the UK album chart and is recognised as their best yet.
Fronted by former Almighty singer, Northern Ireland’s Ricky Warwick, BSR boast a twin guitar attack, first perfected by Lizzy in the 1970s, of Damon Johnson and Gorham. The line-up is completed by Chad Szeliga on drums and Robbie Crane on bass.
The band hit Cambridge on Saturday (November 18) when they play the Junction, and while some of Lizzy’s songs play a part in their set list, the majority is woven around their own musical identity.
The band name was chosen by Warwick after a bunch of outlaws in the 1993 film Tombstone and had Gorham’s blessing because, as a whole, the group were getting uneasy about continuing to record under the Lizzy moniker.
For talented American guitarist Johnson, who was invited to join the band by Gorham, the Lizzy legacy will always be a part of its soul and he admits it would have taken them longer to get established as BSR without that connection.
Johnson said: “We are very proud of what we have accomplished as BSR in four or five short years and we are always going to be very aware of the fact that if it wasn’t for Thin Lizzy, that legacy and fan base, it would have been tough going to get BSR off the ground.
“You will never get anything but total respect and gratitude when it comes to anything associated with Thin Lizzy. When we first started BSR I wanted to step away from that, I didn’t want to get too immersed as a songwriter.
“But recently I’ve been going back and listening to some of the old Thin Lizzy albums. The other day in the gym I put on Bad Reputation and it was brilliant. As you guys love to say, it was cracking. It was incredible, the guitar sounds and Phil Lynott’s singing took me back to being a kid again and being a fan and that was a pretty fantastic place to find myself after everything that has transpired. I will be a Thin Lizzy fan forever.”
After the success of Heavy Fire, critically acclaimed as their best all-round album so far, ahead of debut release All Hell Breaks Loose and its follow-up, The Killer Instinct, Johnson reveals he and Warwick have started looking at new songs for their next release.
He added: “We’ve started thinking about it actually and Ricky and I have passed a couple of riffs back and forth and we spoke on the phone last week about how we can feel that energy growing.
“Heavy Fire, we felt as a band, was probably our best overall effort. I loved the first two albums as well but as a complete body of work, Heavy Fire was without a doubt our best effort yet.
“So, we would love to continue that momentum and we know what it takes. You have to roll your sleeves up and get to work. Songwriting is probably the most difficult part of the whole process. It takes time. It is a bonus that we love that part of the process.
“We love to write and record and hopefully those are all the ingredients for a band that can continue to do this for years to come. I hope so.
“The other thing I am looking forward to is that this tour isn’t a really gruelling one. We are going to be away from for almost four weeks and that is not too bad. I can handle that and so can the wife. This one is just right. I can’t wait.”
And the best thing about touring? “We love to have a laugh, a few beers after the show and talk about songs and cities and chat to the fans,” he adds. “We have some diehard fans now who come to multiple shows. It is great to see those familiar faces as well as those who are seeing us for the first time.
“That stuff really keeps you going. I try to eat right and exercise while on tour but there is always a beer. Ricky likes a Stella but he likes it cold while I love a pint of Guinness. Creamy, frothy and rich, it is like a bowl of soup.”
The Coming Under Heavy Fire November 2017 tour kicked off earlier this month and their Cambridge Junction appearance with support from Blue Pills, Tax the Heat and Dirty Thrills, will be their penultimate gig before they head out across Europe and then America next year.