CHARLEY & MORAG FARLEY
Photos: Morag Farley Photography
With the queue forming with an hour to doors opening there was an air of excitement about the night ahead. Standing outside in the cold November air, we could hear one of the band sound checking at 1800 so that meant a slight delay on getting in, but being one of the first dozen in meant we were literally ‘Down The Front’ actually at the barrier for this excellent line up.
Promptly at 18:30 the first band, Dirty Thrills, a London based four piece outfit, began their set. The bass heavy acoustics of the Queens Hall suited their heavy blues rock style and from the start it set a high bar for the evening’s entertainment. Louis James (Vocals) was like a caged lion on the extremely cramped stage, the two additional drum kits limiting the room for their performance. Playing tracks from their 2017 album ‘Heavy Living’ Louis was still extremely active in the smallest of spaces and his energy was infectious, a perfect first act to warm up the crowd.
Dirty Thrills are:
Louis James (Lead Vocals)
Jack Fawdry (Guitar)
Steve Corrigan (Drums)
Aaron Plows (Bass)
Check them out at:
Second on the bill were a band we’ve seen before a few times - Tax The Heat. Immaculately dressed as always, they take to the stage with a confidence of a veteran band. Playing tracks off of their album ‘Fed to the Lions (2016)’ and with a couple of new tracks being given their first live outing on this tour the future is bright for these guys and we’re excited about what they’ve got in the pipeline. This being their first time in Edinburgh, they thanked the crowd for coming out and also thanked Damon, Ricky and Scott from the Black Star Riders for supporting them during their early demos and for supporting new music. Their new single ‘Money in the Bank’ is a kick ass track, from the bone shaking kick drum and bass, to the gentle breakdown before letting rip again with the powerful dual guitar work, and Alex Veale’s vocals crown a brilliant song. Ending on a massive high with the catchy ‘Change your Position’ the crowd’s applause show that Tax The Heat’s first trip to Edinburgh will not be their last. Speaking to a few people at the barrier during the break Tax The Heat have a few new fans after tonight’s performance.
Tax The Heat are:
Alex Veale (Vocals/Guitar)
Jack Taylor (Drums)
Antonio Angotti (Bass)
JP Jacyshyn (Guitar)
Check them out at:
The third band on tonight’s packed bill were Blues Pills from Sweden, also on their first visit to Edinburgh. With more space on the stage after the removal of one of the drum kits the band strike up with Elin Larsson (Vocals) bouncing onto the stage. Her soulful but powerful vocals stunning the audience, not for one moment did she stand still, out past the monitors, onto the barrier steps to interact with the crowd this lady had the Edinburgh crowd eating out of her hand from the off. Thanking Black Star Riders for inviting them on this tour, she led the band through a mix of tracks from their albums ‘Lady in Gold (2016)’ and ‘Blues Pills (2014)’. The band were amazing - Dorian Sorriaux (Guitar) was mesmerising to watch, appearing effortless with a unique style we were unable to look away whilst he played his solo’s. The growing crowd were loving the Blues Pills set, the majority clapping along with the songs. When Elin said they were going to cover Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ the crowd cheered and sang along with the band. Elin has a voice that could easily cover any Jefferson Airplane song. With the set complete the Blues Pills received a massive round of applause.
Blues Pills are:
Elin Larsson (Vocals)
Dorian Sorriaux (Guitar)
Zach Anderson (Bass)
André Kvarnström (Drums)
Rickard Nygren (Keyboards/Guitar)
Check them out at:
As the headliners and final act of the night The Black Star Riders prepared to take the stage, the packed Queens Hall was buzzing with anticipation with people jostling for a barrier position. From the moment that Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson, Robbie Crane and Chad Szeliga stepped onto the stage the place erupted. Ricky Warwick joined them and the crowd stepped it up another level. Opening up with ‘Finest Hour’ followed by ‘Heavy Fire’, the title track from their 2017 album, the crowd were in fine form and the band looked absolutely amazed at the response. Thanking the crowd for coming to the show and announcing that they were going to play one of their 3 Radio 2’s record of the week ‘Testify or Say Goodbye’. The crowd joins in with the song and that’s how it was for the rest of the set, the crowd helping out on vocal duties. ‘Soldierstown’ and ‘Before the War’ getting the crowd even more wound up.
Ricky did what he does so well; working the crowd who all become the 6th member of the Black Star Riders. Ricky takes time to introduce the legendary Scott Gorham on almost the 5th birthday of the Black Star Riders, saying that when they formed they didn’t know how they’d be received, after they decided that they needed to step out of Thin Lizzy’s shadow. 5 yrs and 3 albums later he thanked the loyal fan base for their support and because of this they are about to start album number 4 to the absolute delight of the Edinburgh crowd. ‘Dancing with the Wrong Girl’, ‘ Hey Judas’ and ‘When the Night Comes In’ all have the crowd belting the lyrics back to the stage, Damon, Scott and Robbie all take a moment during and between songs to acknowledge members of the audience, launching well aimed picks at members of the crowd with the accuracy of a sniper.
Scott and Damon taking turns to take lead duties on guitars, both shining examples of their craft, seemingly effortless but truly magnificent. Ricky Warwick is one of rocks best front men, adding the third guitar to the songs, amazingly powerful vocals and being able to manipulate the crowd to his will. Robbie Crane hangs back and drives the tracks along, solidly providing the bass lines that give Black Star Riders their distinctive sound. The “youngster” as Ricky described him, Chad Szeliga behind the drums, adds a heavier, rockier sound and we are excited to see how this is going to pan out on the new material.
Paying tribute to their roots they played ‘Jailbreak’ raising an already electric atmosphere another a level. Ricky Warwick takes to the barrier to perform ‘Ticket to Rise’ shaking the hands of many of the people in the first few rows of the crowd. Ricky introduces the members of the band to the now ecstatic crowd. Chad starts beating the floor tom, egging the crowd to cheer after each short beat, speeding up and with the crowd joining in it leads into ‘Kingdom of The Lost’ and almost the entire venue starts to bounce in unison.
Foregoing the usual pretence of the end of the show and the encore Ricky thanks the crowd once again for their support and Damon joins him asking the few remain seated fans on the balcony to stand up for the final couple of songs. ‘Bound for Glory’ has the entire Queen’s Hall singing back and bouncing.
The Black Star Riders really did leave the best until last, Damon Johnson plays the first few notes of the final song and the place erupts again as the instantly recognisable ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ begins. The entire place sing back each word, the band looked amazed at the reaction, each one of them had a look of pure joy, Scott, Damon and Robbie beaming, Ricky banging out the lyrics and loving the feedback from the crowd. Neither of us have experienced many performances that good, the crowd and band having so much fun together. Ricky and the guys allowing the crowd to even take over vocal duties during the chorus, stopping the instruments completely to allow them to enjoy the moment. Unfortunately the song had to end and the band stepped past the monitors to gratefully accept the rapturous applause and cheers from the crowd, handing out their remaining guitar picks and drum sticks and shaking the hands of the extremely happy fans. This was one track and one performance that will stick with me forever.
Black Star Riders are:
Ricky Warwick (Vocals/Guitar)
Scott Gorham (Guitar)
Damon Johnson (Guitar/Vocals)
Robbie Crane (Bass/Vocals)
Chad Szeliga (Drums)
Check them out at:
This was a phenomenal night of music. All four band work so well together building the atmosphere with each performance. All these bands we cannot recommend highly enough and we urge them to be checked out if they play near you.
Finally the venue, The Queens Hall is amazing; partially standing with plenty of seating; the acoustics are up there with the best; the staff friendly and helpful with a well stocked bar. There was plenty of space for the four merch stands and we were happy to come away with a tee shirt or two.
For more information about events at this great venue click here.
**PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA**