Black Star Riders, Michael Monroe, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons Live at The Tramshed, Cardiff

BSR Tour Poster 2023

Black Star Riders, Michael Monroe, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons
The Tramshed, Cardiff
Live Review and Photograhy by Paul Hutchings

There will be few more variable yet totally entertaining bills than the one that rolled into one of the best venues in South Wales this Tuesday evening. Celebrating a decade together, Black Star Riders pulled in two very solid supports to bolster the audience on this tour. Not that they ever looked like they needed it. But more of them later. 

Just shy of seven o’clock and the Tramshed is already an expectant buzz. Twenty minutes later and there’s not an awful lot of room in the 1000 capacity venue as the first in a parade of hard rock legends enters the stage. It’s been eight years since Phil Campbell played his final gigs with Motörhead, something which still seems incredibly raw. Since then, Campbell assembled his All-Star Band before morphing it into The Bastard Sons. The band tour relentlessly, evidence that fame and notoriety and status doesn’t a) pay the bills and b) ease the creative itch. Campbell is most comfortable on the stage, peeling out those bluesy solos he’s been doing for over 40 years, since those days when he played with Persian Risk a mere stone’s throw from tonight’s venue. 

The band are a man down. Guitarist Todd is absent, still recovering from illness. This leaves the band slightly light in the axe department, although bassist Tyler appears intent on bringing the low end, such are his rumblings through the 40-minute set. He locks in tightly with drummer Dane, who is surely becoming one of the most underrated drummers in the UK. He handles everything with ease. But this is a band made to survive adversity and the four-piece don’t look like they’re bothered. Indeed, given the limited space afforded to them, it’s probably a relief for Tyler and vocalist Joel Peters to have an extra foot to move around in. 

They hit the stage hard, with their anthem ‘We’re the Bastards’. It’s a fist pumper of a track and immediately gets the crowd moving. This is home turf after all. Peters is a blur of movement, he reminds me of a lighter Ben Ward (Orange Goblin) with his constant cajoling, be it splitting the sides to get a singalong which was embarrassingly polite or getting the crowd to raise their middle fingers to shout, “fuck you, Tyler Campbell”. The band may be struggling slightly when Phil takes the solos, but overall, there is little to complain. They throw in the welcome smattering of Motörhead tracks. ‘Born to Raise Hell’, ’Going to Brazil’ and the mandatory ‘Ace of Spades’ all feature – they do the job in style and Lemmy smiles, I’m sure. 

In Peters, the band have the frontman that they were hunting for since Neil Starr left. Andrew Hunt did a fine job, but Peters is loud, obnoxious, and potty mouthed. He gives it large, and then some. Meanwhile, Phil is content to play guitar, and he can do that with such ease. He thanks the Cardiff crowd, and as ‘Ace of Spades’ fades away, we hope the band will be back to play another headline gig here soon.

If you look in the dictionary for the definition of flamboyance, you’ll find the name Michael Monroe there. Now aged 60, there cannot be many of his age who are in such fine shape. As the lights drop, Monroe and his band enter the stage to a huge ovation. There are clearly a good percentage of the audience here to see the Finn as well as the headliners. He’s everywhere, a nervous ball of wired energy, dashing across the stage, dropping onto the barrier, climbing high above the front row, sitting on the monitors. He does it all. 

One Man Gang starts the evening, and it’s a 40-minute high-octane riot that races through a combination of solo hits and some old favourites. He mixes the set slightly, throwing in ‘Hammersmith Palais’ and ‘Motorvatin’ for the first time on the tour. The songs whizz by, as Monroe thrusts, pouts, flatters his mascara coated eye lashes and generally throws shapes. He can still do the splits, which he manages with alarming frequency. I’m sure I’m not the only middle-aged dude to wince. 

Alongside Monroe, he has quite the team. Guitarist Rich Jones and Steve Conte riff it up on either side of the stage, leaping about almost as much as their frontman at times. Behind them drummer Karl Rockfist hammers out the beat, locking in with long-time bassist Sami Yaffa, whose time with Monroe dates back to those heady Hanoi Rocks days. By the time the band hit ‘Dead, Jail or Rock ‘n’ Roll’ the crowd are eating out of his hands. It’s time for a final fling, and there was never going to be anything other than ‘Up Around the Bend’ which Rocks made their own from CCR, and which gets the Tramshed bouncing. Legend number two ticked off.

Formed in 2012, The Black Star Riders has always been a supergroup of sorts. Formed by Ricky Warwick, Damon Johnson, and Scott Gorham in 2012, it’s Warwick who survives as the sole original member. The band’s latest album “Wrong Side of Paradise” was released a couple of weeks before the tour began. 

They get a good start as heavy metal comedian Don Jamieson cracks a few poor jokes but succeeds in raising some laughs as well as some emotions. Slade’s ‘Cum On, Feel the Noize’ gets the crowd singing and the band race into ‘Pay Dirt’, the first of five songs from the new album to get an airing. Warwick is centre stage, leather jacket, bandana and that familiar scowl. He’s flanked by bassist Robbie Crane, a fixture since 2014, and Wayward Sons guitarist Sam Wood, who’s the new boy in the camp. Although Zak St John played on the album, it’s Jimmy deGrasso who is laying down the rhythm for this tour. His CV is impressive and he nails the new tracks as well as those he’s a bit more familiar with. 

With five albums to choose from, it’s almost a greatest hits set. We get ‘The Killer Instinct’, ‘Bound for Glory’, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ and ‘Another State of Grace’. The audience is singing along. Warwick rehearses his Celtic connections. It goes down well. As does the arrival of the main man, Scott Gorham, who spends 60 minutes reminding us of his skill. A bruising cover of ‘Crazy Horses’ increases the temperature. 

We get an even bigger treat when Phil Campbell joins the band for the cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Don’t Believe a Word’. It’s a massive song, and a massive moment. Michael Monroe will join the band for ‘Tonight the Moonlight’ later. It’s fabulous stuff, with the musicians in harmony, smooth and polished, whilst the crowd roar approval. 

They do what they do flippin’ well. They may be slightly formulaic, but Warwick can write an anthem. Of course, he’d kill to write something as good as Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’. It gets the venue jumping once more before ‘Finest Hour’ wraps things up. It’s been immense. Hard, heavy, but with heart and feeling. Smiles all round. They know how to do it right. Every time.




Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. Photography solely the property of Paul Hutchings. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Black Star Riders – Wrong Side Of Paradise

Wrong Side Of Paradise Album Cover Art

Black Star Riders – Wrong Side Of Paradise
Earache Records
Release Date: 20/01/23
Running Time: 41:09
Review by Simon Black

I first saw the reincarnated Thin Lizzy at the sadly short-lived High Voltage festival back in 2011. It was an odd event, and only ran for two years, although ultimately the festival was more memorable for the fact that Amy Winehouse had carked it the night before it started (which we found out whilst there) and by the fact they ran out of beer about mid-afternoon on the Saturday afternoon, which may be one of the explanations as to why it’s probably not around anymore (that, and bankruptcy). 

However, one of the stand-out performances from that weekend was Thin Lizzy. They dragged that event out of the doldrums and delivered a set of Lizzy classics with a slightly more up to date edge. I was oblivious to the fact that they had even rebooted with Ricky Warwick out front, but I was struck at the time as to what an inspired choice that was, given his soulful gravelly Hard Rock voice fitted the music perfectly. Having done as much as you can do as your own tribute act, the band morphed into Black Star Riders as a means of writing and recording again without all the baggage that went with the Lizzy brand. So same sound; new name – at least at first…

A lot has happened since. 

Five new studio albums for a start, each incrementally evolving away from that Thin Lizzy template as one by one the members of the line-up I saw back on that day left, leaving only Warwick standing twelve years later. But that’s OK, because Black Star Riders were always meant to be an evolving act. That said, if you are an ageing Thin Lizzy fan coming to them fresh for the first time, then you might get a bit of a shock, as there’s not an over-widdley dual guitar solo or an Irish folk melody to be had these days. To be honest existing Black Star Riders fans might raise a few eyebrows too, but then this has been snowballing for a while and it’s quite a stylistic jump forward. Or you could just open your minds and ears to this record…

Again, I don’t have a problem with that evolution, because what this is a really solid, and thoroughly modern Hard Rock album led by a man whose musical history is way larger than any incarnation of this project. If anything, this feels like a distillation of the best elements of the whole of Warwick’s career, with that Lizzy / BSR tone and vibe still hanging in there but augmented by everything The Almighty or his numerous solo albums brought to the genre, whilst still sounding absolutely of the current times. The forty odd minutes of run time don’t hang about, with the songs delivering focussed, punchy and stripped back sounding Rock ’n’ Roll. In fact, that peeled back-to-basics sound this four-piece incarnation of the band delivers really works well. And I mean really well. 

Although opening in the song closest to the Lizzy root with the title track, the music branches off in a number of directions. ‘Better Than Saturday Night’ is another one that evokes Phill Lynott, but then Warwick’s been singing his tunes for slightly longer than the man himself did, so that’s no surprise, but with half of the band being new faces things are going to evolve, and evolve they do. The somewhat eclectic cover of ‘Crazy Horses’ will definitely raise a few eyebrows, but it’s a lovely off the wall moment that no-one saw coming and works a treat, and I particularly enjoyed the political nudge of ‘Green And Troubled Land’, because in this day and age you need to. 

What “Wrong Side of Paradise” does and does really well, is stand on its own two feet as an album from a band that happens to have a lot of history, the third chapter of which might just be right here, right now. Roll on the tour in the spring.

‘Better Than Saturday Night’ Official Video

01. Wrong Side of Paradise
02. Hustle
03. Better Than Saturday Night
04. Riding Out the Storm
05. Pay Dirt
06. Catch Yourself On
07. Crazy Horses
08. Burning Rome
09. Don’t Let the World (Get in the Way)
10. Green and Troubled Land
11. This Life Will Be the Death of Me

Ricky Warwick – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Sam Wood – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Robbie Crane – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Zak St. John – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Stonedead Festival 2020 Preview

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Stonedead Festival 2020 Preview
‘The Monster Returns’
By Paul Monkhouse

After two years Stonedeaf Festival is no more. This isn’t due to any issues with the event at all but just purely a need to change the name due to a rival event. Announced during this year’s festival, it was revealed that the new name of this rapidly growing gathering of the cream of the rock scene would be Stonedead and they have certainly continued the trend for stunning line-ups as the reveal of the bands booked thus far has proven.
Once again, the ethos is very much a music festival run by music fans and recaptures the excitement and spirit of those early halcyon years of Monsters of Rock. In the two years since its inception, the event has grown from strength to strength and seems to have truly captured the hearts and imaginations of whole families and generations who just want to hear some of the best bands around in a friendly atmosphere that is well run, affordable and genuinely cares for the rock community that gathers there to worship at the stacks of Marshall Amps. With two hugely impressive festivals under their belts already the announcement of the artists booked so far for 2020 will push the excitement levels up to 11.
Black Star Riders
Headlining will be classic rock supergroup Black Star Riders and anyone who witnessed them on their latest tour will know that the band are firing on all cylinders and knocking every show out of the ballpark. Since forming in 2012 the band have certainly fulfilled their avowed intent to be the next stage in the evolution of Thin Lizzy and have very much grown their own identity whilst capturing the Celtic fire and spirit of the legendary Irish rockers. Helmed by Lizzy axeman Scott Gorham and former Almighty frontman Ricky Warwick, BSR are titans in the rock scene and the immense talent and charisma of these two hugely respected musicians has led them to new heights. Each album has continued to build the formidable machine and their lives shows have become the absolute epitome of what a visceral and exciting celebration of hard rock should be. One of the best bands in the world, Black Star Riders will blow you away.
Tyketto ripped up the rule book when they emerged and produced one of THE classic debut albums of all time in “Don’t Come Easy” and have genuinely never looked back. Formerly fronting Waysted, Danny Vaughn brought his incredible voice and writing talents to form the band with three like-minded New Yorkers and lead single ‘Forever Young’ broke through big time, enjoying constant rotation on MTV. Their rapidly soaring profile saw them opening shows for Bon Jovi and Whitesnake, often blowing the headliners off the stage with their own brand of street tough rock that had a gift of unassailable melody. Grunge put a dampener on things but the band regrouped and proved that you can’t keep quality down. Although the line-up has changed throughout the years, Vaughn has truly been the beating heart of these masters of their craft, his superb voice and stage presence never letting up. After such a stunning start it would be difficult for most bands to reach that high-water mark but Tyketto have produced album after album of immense tunes, fuelled by a craft and determination that Bon Jovi left behind years ago. Prepare to fall in love.
Kris Barras Band
‘Bruising’ is the perfect way to describe Kris Barras as this former MMA cage fighter has produced album after album of muscular blues rock with his self-titled band as well as fronting the supergroup Sonic Blues Machine alongside ZZ Tops Billy Gibbons. A man totally committed to his craft, Barras has toured relentlessly around Europe to growing audiences and each album has grown heavier and won more accolades than each previous release. A player of remarkable sensitivity and verve, he’s certainly caught the imagination of not only the general public but also blues purists who have hailed him as one of the finest guitarists on the scene. Latest album ‘Light It Up’ is a powerful testament to the importance of the blues as a genre while never holding back the punches and providing a crunching soundtrack that more than satisfies fans of rock too and his set at Stonedead should provide the highlight for many on the day.
Blaze Bayley
Blaze Bayley is best known as front man for Tamworth rockers Wolfsbane and then as the man Iron Maiden handpicked to replace the departing Bruce Dickinson and latterly fronting his own titular band, constantly on the road and pouring blood, sweat and tears into every show. His appearance at Stonedead celebrates his time with Maiden so expect some classic tracks from ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI’ albums along with a few other prime cuts. A magnetic performer, Bayley will be bringing his own brand of Midlands Metal that will doubtless thrill all those lovers of British steel.
Tygers Of Pan Tang
Arguably better than ever, Tygers of Pan Tang are one of the most legendary bands of the NWOBHM and follow in the footsteps of Diamond Head this year as leaders and vanguards of the genre who have appeared at the festival. Featuring original guitarist Robb Weir, the band have seen themselves touring all through Europe and beyond to packed houses, rammed with people who appreciate the constantly high class of the writing and performances. From the seminal debut “Wild Cat” through to new album “Ritual” the band have always brought the perfect mix of melody and heaviness that has been their trademark since they emerged from the wilds of Whitley Bay in the North East and they certainly show no signs of slowing down.
Myke Gray feat Kim Jennett
You would have to been hiding under a rock to have not heard of the perfect pairing of former Jagged Edge, Skin and Red White & Blues guitarist Myke Gray with former Voodoo Blood frontwoman Kim Jennett, such are the seismic ripples these two have caused. One of the hardest working and highly thought of musicians in the country, Gray has played on some of the biggest stages in Europe and toured with giants of the rock scene, his skill as a writer and six stringer drawing plaudits from rock fans and peers alike. With her incredible blues rock voice and commanding stage presence, Jennett has met her perfect mentor in the guitarist and has grown immeasurably since they started working together in the Summer of 2018. With a well-received support tour with Black Star Riders and an absolutely incendiary show at Download this year under their belts the two have proven to be one of the genuine ‘must see’ acts on the live circuit and are destined to prove one of the truly legendary ‘’I was there…’’ sets in the history of Stonedead.
With the Special Guests and opening band slots yet to be announced it already looks that Stonedead 2020 will be one of the events of the year and at £50 arena entry or £60 arena and camping fee (cheaper for children) it’s an absolute bargain. The festival happens on 29th August 2020 at the Newark Showground and full details can be found at See you down the front!
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Disclaimer: This preview is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this preview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.