Black Star Riders – Tramshed, Cardiff
Cardiff’s Tramshed always offers a warm welcome, in more ways than you may expect. A capacity crowd full of mainly mature classic rock fans crammed into a venue where the air conditioning is used incredibly sparingly meant that you began to fear for some of the more cardiac challenged punters. At the start of the BSR set sense finally prevailed and some limited breeze provided a little bit of relief. For such a great venue with fabulous staff and security this is the one thing that lets it down.
Opening outfit for the night were The Amorettes (7) have been on the scene since 2009. Hailing from West Lothian, the hard rock and rolling three piece who have toured extensively over the past few years, kicked off proceedings with no shortage of confidence, vocalist and guitarist Gill Montgomery showing her skills as the band crashed into a short set which showcased tracks from their three albums. The raucous Let The Neighbours Call The Cops received a healthy reception and to be fair, as the girls set increased in tempo, so did the applause. With Heather McKay rampaging all over the stage with her bass slung low and sister Hannah bashing seven shades of shite out of her large drum kit, The Amorettes no doubt gained some new admirers during the evening. They don’t do anything new, as noted in closing track Hot and Heavy but they wear their Motorhead/Girlschool/AC/DC/Lizzy influences proudly on their sleeves and were an enjoyable watch.
The crowd swelled for the arrival of the second Scottish act of the evening. Gun (8) are old hands these days and are amongst the hardest working bands around. They appear to be a house band for the organisers of the Hard Rock Hell events and have the swagger to go with their thumping AOR tunes. Dante Gizzi is the epitome of cool, refusing to remove the leather jacket despite the sweltering heat in the venue whilst brother Jools was poured into a pair of red trousers which left little to the imagination! Their 40-minute set went down a storm with the inevitable shape throwing induced by Word Up! causing much hilarity on the balcony (Guilty M'Lud - Ed) With their back catalogue of soft rockers it was only a question of what the band would throw out but they did chuck in a newbie alongside Let It Shine, Hold Your Head Up and of course, the Beastie’s Fight For Your Right which closed their set in style. With a couple of the current line up significantly younger than the original members Gun have got the fresh impetus to continue to build on. Always good fun.
Wailing air raid sirens heralded the arrival of headliners Black Star Riders (7). With their new album recently released to pretty much unanimous acclaim, it was unsurprising that a good half of the set comprised tracks from Heavy Fire. The confidence of a band full of seasoned professionals was there for all to see from the off. Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson are exceptional guitarists and throughout the evening traded licks for fun. Jimmy DeGrasso and Robbie Crane held the rhythm with ease which allowed frontman Ricky Warwick to flex his muscles and throw every rock star shape in the manual. And yet, there was something about the overall delivery that just lacked emotion or connectivity. The previous evening I’d seen The Answer, a band whose heart and soul pull you in to every second of their show. Not so with BSR. If I was uber critical I would say that they were somewhat going through the motions. Sure, they were polished and faultless in their playing and Warwick’s voice is as good in the live setting as it is on record but there was something missing. It felt like watching rather than being part of the gig.
Of course, the sight of Gorham knocking out the riffs for The Boys Are Back In Town is worth the ticket price alone and the band hit the heavy button several times during the evening, most noticeably with Who Rides The Tiger and Bound For Glory (Lizziest track the band have - Ed). Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a bad gig, oh no. It just didn’t hit the connection which often happens and felt a bit too clinical, despite the heat in the venue. I’m sure BSR are decent guys and Scott Gorham is one of my heroes. However, Warwick’s cocksure arrogance doesn’t float my boat and at times became a source of minor irritation. Give me The Answer any day.