Warwick/Johnson Sonic Acoustic Tour At Night People: Live Review
Words: Anne Estella | Photos: Anthony Firmin
On 9th October Manchester’s Night People played host to Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson of Black Star Riders on their ‘Warwick/Johnson Sonic Acoustic Attack Tour’, which is being supported by Gill Montgomery of The Amorettes together with Sam Wood of Wayward Sons.
Montgomery and Wood began their acoustic set looking relaxed in each other’s company and completely at ease. Montgomery’s voice sounded clear and polished as she picked off popular Amorettes songs, including You’ve Still Got Rock and Roll and White Russian Roulette. Wood harmonised with her beautifully and the atmosphere in the intimate venue was warm and light-hearted as the guitar-strumming duo interacted freely with the crowd, enlightening us with little anecdotes about the songs.
Montgomery has been writing with Warwick since 2015 and sang the first song they ever wrote together, Let The Neighbours Call The Cops, which sounded fantastic. The Amorettes’ new single, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, which has enjoyed airplay on Radio 2 (taken from the band’s latest album, Born To Break) and another song penned with Warwick, Everything I Learned – I Learned From Rock and Roll, were two more nuggets that rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable set, leaving everybody nicely warmed up and excited for the main attraction.
This was no ordinary acoustic set, as the nearly two and a half hour show by Belfast-born Warwick, and Johnson, a native of Alabama, was interspersed with scores of amusing stories, including; ‘The time Johnson’s mother met Alice Cooper (and discovered that he was really a very nice chap after all)’, ‘How an Irishman explains The Troubles to an American in two minutes’ and ‘The time Floyd London (bassist from The Almighty) got abducted by aliens’.
The 24-song setlist included songs by BSR, such as The Killer Instinct and Blindsided, as well as covers of Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen (sung by Johnson) and Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades (sung by Warwick), which sounded impressively loud and full tilt, especially considering the absence of a drumkit. Born To Lose by Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World and hits from the Thin Lizzy catalogue including Borderline, The Boys Are Back In Town and Jailbreak, were all lapped up by an exuberant audience.
Warwick introduced the BSR song, Dancing With The Wrong Girl, as “a beautiful little love song about a serial killer from Texas” and the crowd clapped in time to its upbeat tune. Many of the songs were interrupted, as the pair, who had great on-stage chemistry and banter, frequently stopped to talk to one another as well as the crowd. Johnson, a BIG Oasis fan judging by the number of times he claims to have watched the Oasis documentary, was just waiting for Liam Gallagher to walk through the door, but sadly that didn’t materialize.
Being a huge fan of The Almighty, my personal highlights were Free ‘N’ Easy and Wild & Wonderful, and although acoustically the songs lacked the ‘almighty oomph’ that I always loved about them, those moments were still powerful enough to bring nostalgic tears to my eyes. I’d never noticed the similarity between Wild & Wonderful and Bryan Adams’ Run To You before, but Warwick managed to seamlessly morph one song into the next and then back again.
An ‘infectious’ song to the tune of Hey There Delilah was sung by Johnson with modified lyrics, Weird Al Yankovic-style, about venereal disease of all subjects, which was so witty, I was straining to catch every word. The gargantuan set closed with Sweet Home Alabama followed by Whisky In The Jar and a party atmosphere swept through the room as the crowd sang the choruses and were left with a night of classic, stripped-back, rock ‘n’ roll music and amusing tales to cherish, delivered by exceptionally talented musicians.