REVIEW: Europe with Black Star Riders – Ulster Hall, Belfast

 bsr13“Some say rock n’ roll is dead, well it’s not here in Belfast!”

These were the words that I believe best summed up the night, shouted down the microphone by local boy Ricky Warwick, lead singer of the Black Star Riders.

The night saw come together The Amorettes, a new upcoming three piece from Scotland, Black Star Riders, a band made up of old Thin Lizzy members amongst others, and legendary rock band Europe, creators of none other than The Final Countdown and perhaps holders of one or two records for biggest hair in the 80’s.

Kicking off the night saw The Amorettes take to the stage for a short but impressive set. The time on stage may have only accumulated to around 30 minutes, but they used every single second on the stage to show the Belfast crowd why they were sharing the stage with such musical legends. The three piece from Scotland played through some original tracks, from their Haulin’ Ass album. The short set was truly a testament to the members, as others may have felt a little disheartened with the length provided to them.

bsr15The Amorettes made sure to enjoy every moment, playing every chord as if it was their last, and set the stage ablaze with hard heavy guitar riffs that provided a perfect opening for the next two bands. After seeing these three girls on stage, I’m sure there was no doubt in anyone’s mind they were at a rock n roll concert.

Next up came what one may be forgiven to describe as the reformed Thin Lizzy, under the new banner of Black Star Riders. What I found most endearing about this band was that, whereby other members from classic rock bands may wish to steer clear of their old roots, The Black Star Riders were hiding nothing away about their Thin Lizzy heritage, and WHY WOULD THEY?!

As you would expect from any band that have three members hailing from one of the most recognisable and legendary rock bands of all time, the set was nothing short of a nostalgic overload. From start to finish of the set, the band played through some of their brilliant original tracks from their new album,e3 ‘The Killer Instinct’ (a must buy for any rock n roll fans collection), and previous album ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, and although these went down a storm with the packed out Belfast audience, as you may guess the biggest cheers erupted to the sound of the old Thin Lizzy tracks ringing out.

The band fired out classics such as ‘The Boys are Back in Town’, ’Emerald’ and ‘Jailbreak’, all of which provided moments for all the band members to come together, shoulder to shoulder, in the ways the great rock bands of old would have done so. My personal favourite of the night was when the opening chords to ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ began to vibrate around the hall, played with so much passion and excitement, feeling like they had just come out of the studio with it as their new song, if one was to have closed their eyes, they could have easily felt like they were back at an actual Thin Lizzy concert.

e16The set ended however on the best way possible with ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ playing out  along with the Belfast crowd singing every word while being encouraged to do so by the band, clearly enjoying their time on the stage. None more than front man and local born Ricky, who was clearly filled with pride to be playing to his home crowd and watching them turn out in such numbers to indulge in classic rock n roll.

Last up came the unforgettable Europe, wielding their latest critically acclaimed album ‘War of Kings’ along with some classics to wow the die-hard fans that showed up to pack the Ulster Hall. Now before I get to the most obvious song that was played on the night…let me say this, as someone who never really listened to Europe beyond their greatest hits, I couldn’t help but be won over by the Swedish rock legends.

e6Looking around me during the gig I saw nothing short of pure devotion being thrown towards them by fans of all ages as they played through every song with the same charisma and energy they did back in the 80s. The entire set was truly a statement from the band – a statement that said they could still put on the same kind of show, if not better, than they could years ago.

The band’s latest songs such as ‘War of Kings’ and ‘Hole in my Pocket’ were met with just as much enthusiasm from the crowd as their older songs like ‘Rock the Night’ and that other one that sold a few copies, that one about the countdown?

With mega guitar solos, classic rock n roll poses, brilliant crowd interaction and songs that were performed in a way that underlined why this band are stamped with legendary status, Europe put on one hell of a show. Oh and by the way, they finished on ‘The Final Countdown’ – now what more could anyone want to end a concert more perfectly?

A brilliant night of music, a night soaked in nostalgic songs and new tracks for any rock and roll lover to sink their teeth into. A night I’m sure anyone who was there won’t forget anytime soon. Niall Donnelly, GiggingNI.com