Review – Mark McGrogan

Photography – Liam Kielt –

The boys are back in town!!! It’s seems so obvious to say that but it’s true, one of Northern Irelands favourite son’s Ricky Warwick and their adopted favourite son Damon Johnson, have returned to play an acoustic show to end all acoustic shows! Another of Northern Ireland’s highly respected musicians Phil Mc Carroll opened the show, the legendary ex-Payola frontman who took to the stage to warm up an already highly excitable bustling crowd. Phil ran through his set of solo work and old Payola favourites, which included a fitting tribute to one of his icons Chris Cornell with a high quality version of ‘Like A Stone.’

As Phil left the stage you could sense the buzz in the Belfast crowd and they encroached on the stage, Ricky and Damon enter to screams and wolf whistles and you know it’s gonna be one hell of a night! The guys are in great form as they rip into ‘Waiting For An Alibi’ and as they set up for the next track they take the piss out of each other, Ricky saying “You’ve been practising” to Damon as he says “Yeah” Ricky replies “Thank Fuck!” and the crowd laughs. Clearly these two guys love playing together, like a band of brothers they are so in sync.

Tonight see’s the guys run through a plethora of tracks, a 30 song set no less that will take them close to two and a half hours to get through, not bad value in anyone’s book. They play old Thin Lizzy favourites and Black Star Riders as well as songs from previous bands the guys played in, The Almighty and Brother Cane as well as cover songs that the guys just love to play. It makes for an almighty set-list that see’s the guys rip through Rock Classics and Trad influenced numbers that have the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. Each and ever song greeted with rapturous applause.

As the guys lay into an old Brother Cane number ‘Fools Shine On’ you would swear their acoustics are connected to a wall of Marshall amps, the floor shakes as the booming rhythm of the track consumes the room; it’s a huge sounding track with an even bigger sing along chorus. The duo blast their way through more Lizzy and BSR numbers, solo tracks and covers, some of the highlights were their covers. Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ and the unforgettable ‘Ace Of Spades’ which proceeded a story of Ricky’s acoustic guitar, signature laden and as he explains the scrawls on his favourite six string, two of his musical icons Jake Burns of Still Little Fingers and Lemmy of Motorhead. A fitting tribute on acoustic guitar that would no doubt please the man himself.

By now the guys have shred their way across 28 odd tracks before they hit ‘The boys Are Back In Town’ and everyone in the room goes bat-shit crazy! Across the whole night the boys are tortured by the idea of playing ‘Freebird’ and appease a warm and hungry crowd instead by playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ before wrapping up a marathon show with the one, the only ‘Whiskey In The Jar’

As the night draws to an end you can’t help but appreciate what just proceeded, two guys who just love what they do giving it their all, an unadulterated insight into the minds of Warwick / Johnson and the chaos within. It was a beautiful thing, if you’re lucky enough to see these two up close and personal at one of their more intimate shows, do it! You’ll not leave disappointed.

Set List :

Ricky Warwick / Damon Johnson

Ricky Warwick / Damon Johnson Setlist








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