Black Star Riders @ Fulton 55, Fresno CA 05/14/14

I cannot get over the embarrassingly shitty turnout for this gig. Per the venue, 57 damn people attended. One could argue that this made for an intimate show. But from my vantage point, a seasoned, international touring group with a celebrated history was playing to less than 10% of the venue’s capacity, making this tiny little club look cavernous. My jaw freakin’ dropped. There are almost half a million people in Fresno – not all of us are Country or Pop music fans. There’s a rock audience in the valley and we’ve been starving for quality rock acts. Where the hell’s the support for this group? It’s difficult to say where blame should be placed, if it lays with anyone or anything in particular. I figured the off night and a reliance on social media were the culprits. Come to find out, ads and other blurbs were taken out on FM radio as well as the local newspaper, The Fresno Bee. This is the valley and this isn’t exactly a sprawling metropolis, any kind of cultural or entertainment news is a bit slower in making it’s way to the general population than say, San Francisco or Los Angeles. In the end, I think the group may have been screwed by their name change. I seriously think the casual Thin Lizzy fans and classic rock fans in general simply didn’t know about the name change to Black Star Riders. Well, any future bookings in the valley for BSR are now shot to Hell. Don’t get me wrong, the band was great, their performance was great. They were the consummate professionals, delivering a hair raising performance for the few people that were there. We made up for the sparse attendance, I remember us being VERY loud and equally appreciative. Seriously, I forgot that the venue was near empty. Only when I turned to look behind me was I reminded of the depressing reality of this gig.

The band kicked ass. This is the latest incarnation of Thin Lizzy, and the sound IS the classic Thin Lizzy sound. I don’t know how to put it into words, but there’s a groove and a swagger to this kind of hard rock. It’s equal parts American and Irish, riff based rock & roll with some blues and boogie thrown in. The new album, All Hell Breaks Loose, is very much in keeping to that sound and to the legacy of Thin Lizzy. This is due to veteran guitarist Scot Gorham’s unmistakeable style, as well as Ricky Warwick’s gruf croon that’s very much in keeping with the Late Phil Lynott’s style.

I must say that it was awesome finally being able to watch Jimmy Degrasso in action. At one time or another, Jimmy had played drums for Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth, and the great Y&T, amongst many others. Nevermind about the light turnout, he was still all smiles, having a good time and trading words with the other bandmembers. Jimmy’s a great all around hard rock drummer with great dexterity and chops. I was close, real close, and could see every stroke, tom and cymbal hit. Mark from Bentley’s Drum Shop was in the crowd, I said hello and said he’s got one heck of a drum shop. Bentley’s is awesome. It’s a high quality shop, super clean, and wall to wall with gear. It rivals some of the big city drum shops…and it’s a hell of a lot better than San Jose Pro Drum Shop (which is owned by Jimmy Degrasso!). Also on-hand was Rudy Parris, a great local musician and one time contestant on The Voice. I got to introduce myself and had a few words with him. It was cool to hear him say “I recognize you!” That was uber cool. It was also interesting to hear that Scott Gorham influenced Rudy’s guitar playing style, very cool piece of info. Lastly I wanted to give a shout out to the teacher who also happened to be a Rush/King’s X/U2 fan. Great chatting with you.

If anyone has any ideas how a crappy turn out like this can be avoided, please send those ideas along to Tony at Fulton 55. It seems we both heard the same line: “Man I would have gone if I had only heard about this show.” I’m at a loss about how a gig like this can be better promoted. The set was something like the following. It was eye-popping being able to hear those Thin Lizzy songs recreated and sounding just like the studio originals, but with vigor and the adrenaline of a live situation. The new songs stood up well to the classics and the set was a great mix of both classic and new material. Great show, guys. I don’t blame you if you never come back.

All Hell Breaks Loose
Are You Ready
Bloodshot
Bad Reputation
Hoodoo Voodoo
Jailbreak
Kingdom of the Lost
Hey Judas
Valley of the Stones
Emerald
Bound for Glory
Cowboy Song
The Boys Are Back in Town
Whiskey In the Jar

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Posted on May 19, 2014, in Black Star Riders (Thin Lizzy), Concerts: 2012 - Present and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I had the pleasure of being at this show and I was likewise appalled at this turnout. It did make for an intimate show, but I was somewhat ashamed of Fresno for being nonexistent while such a great band took the time to roll through. Earlier this month, the place was jam-packed to capacity to see a has-been metal band put on a joke of a show. It really does come down to promotion. I’m just sorry it didn’t happen for BSR.

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