Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Black Star Riders / Hellenback @ Blue Fox Billiards 6/6/2014

I went to see the Black Star Riders (aka Thin Lizzy Jr.) at Blue Fox Billiards in Winchester, VA ($30).  This is the second 'far' show in a row and I don't know how I made both Adrenaline Mob in Hagerstown, this show in Winchester, then Cheap Trick the next day at the Fairfax Fair. With work and all that. I met up with Lisa and Tim S. there, and it was actually a pretty cool place.

Why not 4 guitars?

As I got there, it was pretty close to 10:45, when the BSR were supposed to be on. Thankfully (ish?) they were not on yet, and a local band Hellenback was on. So I had a little time to relax.  This place is a bar, with billiard tables, and a long bar area that leads to a pretty decent raised stage with an excellent sound system and some killer new lights.  It was also pretty clean. I don't know how good drinks/selection were because I didn't get anything. There was supposedly a merch area somewhere, because they talked about the CD for sale and some people had shirts.  I didn't look for it, tho, so I can't really report prices :(  There were about 100-120 or so people there in the bar  area by the time BSR came on. 

I saw Hellenback play a couple covers, and I could immediately tell the sound system was pretty great. I thought their guitarists were pretty good, but I really didn't hear enough of them to get a good picture.  Didn't sound bad at all to me and were pretty faithful to the covers I heard.

Scott Gorham, looking old, putting the young guys to shame

I got up ridiculously close (I probably could /should have gotten right up front) to the stage for The Black Star Riders. I wasn't sure what to expect, how good or bad they'd be, so I was rather amazed by how clear and energetic everyone sounded.  Veteran Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham looked ancient (he's 63!), but played his ass off, so much so I thought he was going to collapse on stage.  Thankfully that was not the case.  Mi hermano Marco Mendoza brought the bass and eyeliner, but looked a bit bored. Damon Johnson dueled guitars with Scott and Ricky Warwick (sometimes played, other times just sang with swagger).  Jimmy DeGrasso was on drums, and he played flawlessly as far as I could hear.

Ricky Warwick with silly mustache and awesome cowboy shirt

I couldn't believe they were playing in this small club in Winchester, and I was literally 3 feet away from Ricky and co.  I could see Scott smiling at the crowd, Marco nodding, and Johnny looking for a bit more attention during his very good solos.  I will say my eyes were divided among Marco, Ricky, and Scott.  I think other people who actually saw Phil Lynott live would have to comment, but I imagine it felt like Phil's ghost was playing/singing thru fellow Irishman Ricky Warwick.  The energy kept up with the band and the crowd, and I really barely noticed that it was almost 1AM when they finished.  Though it was a mostly older crowd, people were still loud and definitely sang/shouted along as appropriate.

Just some twin guitars

They played a rock solid 1 hr 20 minute set, and really didn't have any breaks. Setlist wise, they played a whopping 9/11 of the tracks from their pretty great debut album. The other half of their setlist was, of course, Thin Lizzy songs.  I never have seen any version of Thin Lizzy, so hearing Ricky Warwick do his best Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham killing these songs live was pretty exhilarating.  I think "Emerald" (all guitarists got together, lined up and riffed during the refrain) and "Kingdom of the Lost" were the best tracks (let's pick 1 and 1 shall we?), with "Jailbreak" being a close second (I know Lisa loved being singled out during that song!).  It's really great when you get to experience an intimate show with a smaller band/side project or new band (Ashes of Ares, Winery Dogs) and you get to hear most of a solid album (or 2) live.  And the classic twin guitar harmonies of old Thin Lizzy live was just icing on the cake.

Marco Mendoza and Ricky singing

Overall, it was a HELL of a drive out to Winchester (tho better than to Hagerstown for Adrenaline Mob), but there was a conflict on 6/22 (Fleshgod Apocalypse or Zac Brown) when they are coming to the State Theater.  I think things worked out well, as Tim and Lisa were fun to hang with and this is a pretty great intimate place to see a show!  If you can, make it out to see them in Falls Church, VA. You shan't regret it if they play HALF as good as they did this night.

Next Show: Cheap Trick in Fairfax



  •  Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas cover)
  • Do you Feel (Peter Frampton cover)

Black Star Riders (11:37- 1)

  • All Hell Breaks Loose 
  • Are You Ready (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Bloodshot 
  • Bad Reputation (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Before the War 
  • Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Hoodoo Voodoo 
  • Don't Believe a Word (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Kingdom of the Lost 
  • Hey Judas 
  • Southbound (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Kissin' the Ground 
  • Valley of the Stones 
  • Emerald (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Bound for Glory 
  • Cowboy Song (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy cover)
  • Whiskey in the Jar  (Thin Lizzy etc. cover)
  • Rosalie  (Bob Seger cover)