Ipswich Corn Exchange
Thursday 16th February 2023
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BLACK STAR RIDERS – IPSWICH – LIVE REVIEW
Ipswich isn’t a regular touring stop, especially for rock acts, so it’s a nice treat to get this three band bill in town. There is certainly an opportunity for growth in this area for live music and hopefully the Corn Exchange in Ipswich can pick up some more shows like this.
PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS
Opening the evening are Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, who work hard to get the early attendees warmed up. Consummate professionals the band are slick and tight, the proverbial well-oiled machine if you will!
New singer Joel Peters seems to have fit in very well with the Campbell clan and handles material from their first two albums extremely well. The best crowd reactions may be reserved for Motörhead classics ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and ‘Ace of Spades’, but the highlights tonight are the likes of ‘Freak Show’ and ‘Dark Days’. With two quality albums already under their belts, it’ll be interesting to see what the band has up their sleeves next.
Our second act is Michael Monroe, who has undoubtedly influenced many over the course of his career and who the fans in attendance welcome warmly. Monroe though is an act that has passed me by over the years and tonight it’s hard to see what the fuss is about as he calamitously stalks the stage like a rock n’ roll Jar Jar Binks!
A health and safety nightmare waiting to happen Monroe manages to get stuck in a scarf, hit himself in the head with his mic, spill drink over the stage and causes many band, audience and crew members to duck for cover with his various escapades.
During all of this there is some classic rock by numbers played by a competent collection of musicians but the cartoon caricature strutting the stage proves more of a distraction then a centrepiece. Again, though there are those in the audience that lap up the performance, so Monroe must be doing something right! A niche act perhaps, and whilst not mine, many others would be (and were) delighted by this performance.
BLACK STAR RIDERS
Finally, it’s time for our headliners Black Star Riders who are celebrating both the past and the future with their set tonight. First, there is their fantastic new album, ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’ and arrival of new guitarist Sam Wood. Then, there is the small matter of their 10th Anniversary and return for this tour of original members Scott Gorham and Jimmy DeGrasso.
The first portion of the show focuses on the new with main man Ricky Warwick leading Wood, DeGrasso and bassist Robbie Crane through the likes of ‘Pay Dirt’, ‘Better Than Saturday Night’, ‘Riding Out the Storm’ and ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’. This early selection showcases the future of the band and confirms that there is still plenty in the tank. Wood fits the mould and helps to breathe new life into the group.
Soon enough though the iconic Scott Gorham strides across the stage to take position for the next hour or so of celebration. Seeing Gorham and Warwick side by side again is a treat and it’s nice that the band throw in a couple of Thin Lizzy numbers in a nod to the roots of the band.
Throughout the set though you are reminded just how good of a back catalogue that Black Star Riders have amassed in the last ten years. ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, ‘The Killer Instinct’, ‘Before the War’, ‘Testify or Say Goodbye’, ‘Kingdom of the Lost’ and ‘Bound For Glory’ all sound huge tonight as Warwick and co prove that they were right to believe in themselves and the new music they could create together when faced with such criticism a decade ago.
Closing the evening with Lizzy classic ‘Jailbreak’ and Black Star Riders favourite ‘Finest Hour’, the rock fans of Ipswich are sent into the mild evening having witnessed one of the most consistently good bands of the past decade at their finest. The past decade has been sublime and thankfully the next decade looks just as good!
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