Black Star Riders (BSR) / Europe
@ Glasgow 02 ABC
5th March 2015
Review by Ritchie Birnie
Photography by Gavin Lowrey
It’s early March and already we have had a raft of Gigs in Scotland’s biggest city. Tonight sees the second co headline tour of the year with Black Star Riders and Europe hitting the Glasgow 02 ABC for the 1st of a two night stint. The second night sold out early on and this one is filling up nicely( so much for rock is dead Gene). So who won the battle of the headliners tonight? Read on……
Before we get to the headliners we had the not so small matter of The Amorettes( 4/5). A local band who seem to be breaking into the scene. It looks like the female comeback is up and running in Rock and Metal. Last week we had the amazing Maria Brink and In this Moment selling out in Glasgow. Tomorrow we have Haelstorm sold out. We have Girlschool back, The amazing Jen Ledger singing and smashing the skins for Skillet and even Rock Goddess are back. These girls don’t let the side down either.
A powerful set played in their own backyard. They had a good bit of local support and I am sure they will have a lot more now. With one full length CD( Haulin’ Ass) and the new Game On out later this month they have enough material to do a lot more than the allocated 6 songs tonight but I am sure they grabbed this slot with two hands and a handbag full of excitement. This could set them up nicely to a much larger fan base and if tonight is anything to go by they will do well. It bodes well and I wish Gill, Hannah and Heather all the best with the tour and the new album. You done Scotland proud Girls.
Special note if you are going to these shows make sure you are early as the band are on early doors( mostly just after six). …..you do not want to miss them.
Now the 1st of the headliners. Black Star Riders( 4.5/5) have a hell of a lot of history in this town. Back to the days of infamous shows at the hallowed Glasgow Apollo as Thin Lizzy. Seeing Phil decked out in a Scotland football top to one of Glasgow’s honorary sons, The one and only Ricky Warwick. Glasgow may be his third home now( with him living in the States) and he may get in the wrong side of a car when visiting but I can bet you he hasn’t forgotten what a Glasgow crowd is like. I saw him doing an intimate acoustic show last year prior to the release of his two fantastic pledge albums and it was great to see. All very down to earth and a lot of banter. I think this is why he fits so well with the band. In fact I would go so far to say he was the only person who could fill those so talented boots.
So Europe were always going to find it tough to pull one over on these guys….and to be honest they didn’t come close. From the 1st bars of Bound for Glory the fight was lost. The band were on fire. From there we go straight into Jailbreak which gets new and old fans jumping and singing for all they are worth. Another classic Lizzy next with Dancing in the Moonlight. It is with this song I get a breather and the chance to take in the amount of talent on this stage. Lets not dwell on the age thing as they, as well as me are getting on a bit now but to see these guys( and looking very fit and healthy I may add) all on the one stage and meshing so well is a pleasure to behold. Watching Ricky, Damon and Scott in unison is a Rockers slice of Heaven…..especially with Scott’s lovely hair…..(you best explain that one Ricky).
It seems to be one classic after another now with Emerald playing in our ears and bursting our lungs as we sing along. We get a rest now with a quick chat with Ricky around our part in soldiertown Gaelic chanting( I think we done ok). This is a fantastic song from the new album( Killer instinct). Typical Lizzy with the folk roots and chant along singing. It is songs like this that lets me see the additional influence Ricky has had in the band( see his pledge albums for reference) and the pleasing fact that he must be there to stay.
Back to another Lizzy classic( how do these guys agree a set list? The amount of material at their disposal is huge). As you can imagine the crowd are in full flight. The band are in full flow and not a face without a smile on it. I have just hit the nail on the head. This is a feel good gig. For fans of old or someone who just walked in off the street, they will enjoy this. The band sure as hell are. What follows is just a good time. We have a pint and some good old Irish boys doing what they do best…entertaining us.
They finish up with the one and only Whisky in the Jar( very apt) and it storms it. Thank you guys for a memorable night and I cannot wait for download to see you kick it festival style.
Bound for Glory
Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)
Don’t Believe a Word
Kingdom of the Lost
Through the Motions
The Boys Are Back in Town
The Killer Instinct
Whiskey in the Jar
Now to Europe(3.5/5)….and time for some confessions. Back in 1986 I bought three UK number 1 singles. Completely unheard of from me and on thinking back I only ever bought 2 others( Iron maiden and Rage against the machine). So Europe was slotted in amongst The Young ones/Cliff Richard’s living doll( was there a message in this Cliff?) and Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Love Missile F1-11. OK folks you can stop laughing now. But Europe owned 1986. The Final Countdown was massive at the time and is still heard around the world on radio and commercials to this day. And back in the day they were pretty innovative. A lot of the Rock Fraternity did not like the merging with keyboards. A lot of other bands tried and failed and to give them their due Europe are still going strong. They also have to be given some tip of the hat from bands like Linkin Park.
But for die hard rockers its probably a step too far. I was very open to see what they could do live and more importantly how they were received after all these years. They hit the stage with the title track from the new album( War of Kings) and the first thing I need to say is Joey has aged well or maybe I am comparing this to me( well I did have a hard paper round). A strange choice of song to burst onto the stage with as it really doesn’t get the crowd going. This continues unfortunately for a good while. I can’t place exactly what is wrong but there is something missing and the crowd can see it. The vocals are good, the playing is spot on but the groove is just not there.
It takes well into the second half of the set for things to get really going and sees Joey working the crowd( could he sense it too?). It is not till we get to some of the older songs I can start to feel 1986 come alive. I mean these guys commanded arena status so they should know how to kick an audiences ass. For me there were too many omissions from the set list( the biggest being Cherokee). I would have loaded the front end with the back catalogue and slotted the new ones in later.
I know there were a good few die hard fans who enjoyed the show( and I heard they were better the following evening) but I have to disagree with them( to the frustration of the cameraman Gavin, tonight). This show will appease long time converts but for the people who were there to see BSR I don’t think you will have too many new recruits.
The Final Countdown did go down a storm( what would you expect) and it was good to see it performed live at long last but for me it couldn’t save the show. I felt a bit hollow afterwards but all that said and done as a bill it was a good value for money night out. Go see The Amorettes, go ape for BSR and make your own mind up about Europe……are they back???????
War of Kings
Hole in My Pocket
Last Look at Eden
The Second Day
Sign of the Times
Riches to Rags
Rock the Night
Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll
The Final Countdown