Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts / Vice Squad – Bannermans, Edinburgh (16th Nov 2016)

Tonight at Bannermans we have that hard working rocker Ricky Warwick with his new project The Fighting Hearts… but first up classic punk rockers Vice Squad open proceedings.

Vice Squad
Vice Squad

We head all the way back to 1982’s “Citizen” from Stand Strong Stand Proud to open a full on punk assault on the senses tonight. The song and attitude remind me a bit of early Girlschool. A short sharp set follows as we run through “Defiant”,“Punk Rock Radio” and “Punk Rocker” before we get “If I Knew What I Knew Now” from 2014’s excellent Cardboard Country, a highlight for me tonight.

A bit of “Latex Love” & “Ordinary Girl” before they call up the “Punk Police” – another personal favourite. We hear about the “Voice of the People” before we get “Stuck in Reverse” from Punk Rock Radio, a nice fast paced track… and then we start “SniffingGlue”.

All too soon we get to the aptly-titled “Last Rockers”, a nice piece of classic punk rock with that bouncy vibe from a band still in full control of where they are going. The band’s killer singer/guitarist Beki shows no sign of slowing down and is still one of the best front women out there, with a tight killer band backing her up. If you like your punk up in your face and fast go see the band. You’re guaranteed a good night’s entertainment.

The main man next Ricky is one of the hardest working musicians out there and always seems to touring with one band or another. Tonight we are here to enjoy his latest offering with The Fighting Hearts.

Ricky Warwick
Ricky Warwick

The band ask us “Do You Understand”, an old Almighty song and one I remember fondly having seen the band a few times back in the day. It’s a breakneck song and the set does not get much slower. We head up “The Road to Damascus Street” from the new album When Patsy Cline was Crazy which came out out earlier this year. This song really shows off the man’s voice and you can hear why he sang in the Thin Lizzy band, as Ricky’s vocals have a “Lynott-y” tone.

We hear all about “Johnny Ringo’s Last Ride” from the same excellent album now. “Simply stunning” is saying too little about the track or Ricky’s singing and playing. An excellent “Eyeball Kicks” next before we are “Celebrating Sinking” and you just want to sing along with every word as those sultry rock tones drip off his amazing voice. A bit of “Schwaben Redoubt” before we get the harder edged “Tattoos & Alibis” from 2003’s album of the same name – a nice cross between his solo stuff and the Almighty’s swagger.

Mark Gemini Thwaite
Mark Gemini Thwaite

They then launch into the excellent “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy” from said album. The man just can’t go wrong with first class material like this. He has a presence about him when speaking to the crowd, including putting a heckler into his place gently. We get all hotter and sticky now as we head into “Toffee Town”, a real thumper with the band in full flight along with the audience.

We get asked “If You’re Not Gonna Leave Me”… and the answer is “no, we won’t!”, not with this quality material and band!

We head to 2009’s Belfast Confetti next with “The Arms of Belfast Town”. It’s these tracks where that lilting voice truly rings out the strongest – stunning. Into the final stretch now and definitely one of the finest hours or more I have spent watching a band live. “FinestHour” from BSR’s The Killing Instinct with its Thin Lizzy tones, before we get a full-on version of “Tommy Gun” by The Clash.

A rip rousing track as we all get a bit “Free ‘n’ Easy” from The Almighty. This song is always a crowd pleaser and singalong favourite and tonight is no exception. A dazzling version of Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” follows before we head into the last track – the wonderful “Jonestown Mind” from The Almighty.

Tonight was one of those gigs you should have been at. Ricky has matured as a singer/guitarist/songwriter and I think he may be at his finest at the moment. If you get the chance, get along and see Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts. Words fail me as to how good they are, but you will truly not be disappointed.

Photos by CoopsGigPhotography.

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