at the City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., February 24, 2023

BLACK STAR RIDERS (Live at the City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., February 24, 2023)
Photo: Mick Burgess

A tenth anniversary is always an occasion well worth celebrating so when Black Star Riders reached that landmark they decided to commemorate this in style with not only some returning original band members but also with some of their closest friends.

First up was Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons and the former Motörhead guitarist wasted no time in lighting the touch paper with the bruising opener “We’re The Bastards” – a rather apt clarion call if ever there was one. With “Bite My Tongue” and a blistering take on Motörhead’s “Going To Brazil” they were up and running.

One of the great things about this evening was the way various band members joined the other bands on stage for a song or two so seeing Michael Monroe up there getting stuck into “Born To Raise Hell” just upped the atmosphere an extra notch. More to come later.

The slow grinding Blues of “Dark Days” lulled the crowd into a false sense of security before set closer “Ace Of Spades” delivered the killer blow.

After a set filled with down and dirty Biker Rock it was time for something with a little more pizzazz and who better to dish that up than Michael Monroe and “One Man Gang” saw Monroe take the bull by the horns. It wasn’t long before Monroe leapt from the stage and stood atop the crash barrier during “I Live Too Fast To Die Young”.

Monroe dug deep into his long and impressive back catalogue with “Hammersmith Palais”, from the sole Demolition 23 album still a tour de force almost 30 years after its initial release.

Monroe’s energy levels were absolutely incredible and at 60 years old, even more astonishing. He was never still for a single moment, running from one to side of the stage to the other, jumping off the drum riser and during “’78” climbing up the balcony to serenade the delighted crowd up there.

All of Monroe’s flamboyance would count for nothing if there wasn’t the music to back it up and fortunately, he has those songs by the bucketful from “Murder The Summer of Love” from his latest album to an absolutely rip roaring, harmonica rasping “Dead, Jail or Rock ‘n’ Roll” which pretty much personifies the spirit of the down and dirty Punk encrusted Rock ‘n’ Roll that Monroe delivers with such a tornado of unbridled energy.

Monroe’s band was every bit a part of the show with his former Hanoi Rocks band mate Sami Yaffa on bass and New York Dolls guitarist Steve Conte along with fellow guitarist Rich Jones and drummer Karl Rockfist. Not only do they deliver the goods musically but they look fantastic.

Of course being a member of Hanoi Rocks means Monroe has a couple of aces up his sleeve in the form of “Motovatin'”, “Don’t You Ever Leave Me” and a supercharged “Up Around The Bend” to bring his set to an exhausting, sweat soaked end.

Quite a warm up for the main event and a tough act to follow but Black Star Riders have their own star appeal and wasted no time in reclaiming their stage with “Pay Dirt” from their recently released fifth album, Wrong Side Of Paradise.

With new guitarist Sam Wood quickly finding his feet in the band following the return of Christian Martucci to Stone Sour and the departure of Scott Gorham to focus on Thin Lizzy activity. Wood certainly had a lot to live up to. Squint and for a moment, you’d swear it was Scott Gorham circa 1977 up there, from the flowing hair, the smiles and the explosive solos, Wood was a revelation and quite a find for the band.

“Another State Of Grace” and “When The Night Comes In” bristled with a vibrance as Ricky Warwick’s passionate delivery pumped them with an invigorating energy as new songs “Riding Out The Storm “and “Wrong Side Of Paradise” more than matched the older, more established songs in the set.

As a smoke spewing “Crazy Horses” galloped from the speakers it was time for the icing on the cake as the founder member of the band and Thin Lizzy legend, Scott Gorham, was welcomed back onto the stage to a huge cheer for “All Hell Breaks Loose” and remained on stage for the rest of the set returning the Black Star Riders to a five-piece and allowing the old master to trade solos with his prodigy on the likes of “Bloodshot” and “Soldierstown.”

Motörhead’s Phil Campbell jumped on stage to add some muscle to a cracking take on Lizzy’s “Don’t Believe A Word” and Gorham by this time was beaming with delight before heading straight into the beautiful ballad “Blindsided”, sung to perfect by Warwick and the up-tempo commercial, “Killer Instinct.”

“Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down” saw Michael Monroe up on stage to add a new twist to song and from here on it was the big hitters from the bombastic Celtic fuelled “Kingdom Of The Lost” to the commercial tilt of “Bound For Glory” and “Finest Hour” with the small matter of a gold plated classic “Jailbreak” nestling amongst those and needless to say, the City Hall went nuts.

For a tenth anniversary show this takes some beating, three great bands, some knockout performances, guests on stage and the return of founding members. What more could you ask for a night of total celebration?

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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