Black Star Riders at O2 Ritz, Manchester

Support: Backyard Babies| Gun
March 12, 2017 at O2 Ritz, Manchester

A full on hard rock package hit the O2 Ritz in Manchester as Black Star Riders arrived in town to support the recent release of their Heavy Fire record. With support coming from Backyard Babies and Gun, it seemed a no brainer that it was going to be a quality show, and it really did live up to every expectation I had of it.

Scottish rock veterans Gun may be best known for their 1994 cover of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’, which tonight gets a surprisingly early airing, but they have a strong back catalogue, which they showed tonight in a short but impressive opening set. After opening with ‘Let It Shine’, the main focus was obviously on their most successful material, with’ Better Days’ and ‘Shame On You’ featuring from Taking On The World and of course ‘Word Up’ from Swagger. They may have disappeared from a lot of people’s radar some time ago, but Gun are still as good as they ever were, and the new album sounds like it could be a cracker.

Gun

Next up was Backyard Babies, a band I have wanted to see for a long time and they didn’t disappoint. A lot more of a punk edge than the two other bands on the bill, but that simply made them stand out more. The Swedes turn up, do their thing and seem to be gone after no time at all, leaving the crowd with ringing ears and smiles on their faces. The highlight (for me at least) is ‘(Bombed) Out Of My Mind’, which still sounds as relevant as ever, a huge piece of edgy in your face attitude that stills feels as fierce as it did back then. One of the many bands from that time that didn’t really get the attention they deserved, but now, similarly to Gun, they are back with a new album and vigour and hopefully will be back for some headline shows in the near future.

Backyard Babies

The first thing you notice with Black Star Riders nowadays is the facts that they have finally forged their own identity away from the origins of the band, without ignoring it completely. Tonight, they play 18 songs, and only one of them is a Thin Lizzy track, and even that is tucked away in the middle of the set. This shows how well their own material has done and how far the band has come in a relatively short space of time. Its cool to see a bands newer material getting such a good response and shows the progress the band have made over the course of their career. They have amassed a large and loyal following and whereas a lot of bands hit their peak playing at venues like this, you definitely get the feeling that this is one band who could yet be destined for bigger and better things.

The band are grateful for their reception and go about making it a night to remember for the packed crowd, with the new tracks sounding great, especially ‘Testify or Say Goodbye’ and album and show opener ‘Heavy Fire’. Their heavier sound and faster pace add to an already great live show, this added to the growing reputation of the band is an impressive achievement for a group of veteran musicians, but they are one of the most consistent bands around at the moment. Long may it continue.

Gun: ‘Let It Shine’ – ‘Word Up’ – ‘Don’t Say Its Over’ – ‘Better Days’ – ‘She Knows’ – ‘Steal Your Fire’ – ‘Shame On You’.

Backyard Babies: ‘Th1rte3n Or Nothing’ – ‘Dysfunctional Professional’ – ‘The Clash’ – ‘Brand New Hate’ – ‘Bloody Tears’ – ‘Nomadic’ – ‘Minus Celsius’ – ‘Look At You’ – ‘(Bombed) Out Of My Mind’.

Black Star Riders: ‘Heavy Fire’ – ‘Bloodshot’ – ‘The Killer Instinct’ – ‘Dancing With The Wrong Girl’ – ‘Soldierstown’ – ‘Hey Judas’ – ‘When The Night Comes In’ – ‘Cold War Love’ – ‘All Head Breaks Loose’ – ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ – ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’ – ‘Who Rides The Tiger’ – ‘Blindsided’ – ‘Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed’ – ‘Testify Or Say Goodbye’ – ‘Kingdom Of The Lost’ – ‘Bound For Glory’ – ‘Finest Hour’.

Backyard Babies

Backyard Babies

Gun

Gun

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