MetalTalk entered the Islington Academy, which is situated within the Vue shopping centre, with light hearts, looking forward to a glorious evening of live music. We, unfortunately, missed The Howling Tides opening set, but we’re looking forward to The Virginmarys.
Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts, The Virginmarys
Islington Academy, 24 March 2022
Words: Robert Adams
Photography: Steve Ritchie
This was my first introduction to The Virginmarys, and it certainly won’t be my last. The glorious noise that guitarist Ally Dickaty and monster drummer Danny Dolan make has to be seen and heard to be believed.
Think The White Stripes except a lot heavier and more melodic, and you’re almost there. Danny Dolan is on his third set of drumsticks by their fourth song, Running For My Life, due to the punishment he is giving his kit.
Wood splinters are flying everywhere. It’s such a crime that the duo’s efforts are only in front of a still filling-up venue. The effort that The Virginmarys have made tonight is astounding. They are heading out on their headlining tour in May, and I highly recommend you check them out. You won’t be disappointed.
By the time Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts come on to the sound of Eminem’s Lose Yourself, the venue is not quite full. The band waste no time ripping into a wonderful cover of Mink Deville’s Gunslinger, which is on Ricky’s latest album When Life Was Fast And Hard.
The Almighty’s Over The Edge and Ricky’s own Damascus Street follow in quick succession, and it’s plain to see that the band mean business tonight. Thanking us for coming out to see him, Ricky introduces the next song as “coming from my latest album, which was released a year ago”, and we’re into You Don’t Love Me, with chiselled lead guitarist Ben Christo pulling out some gloriously fluid licks.
Tonight’s setlist contains something for everyone and covers all of Ricky Warwick’s storied career from The Almighty, his solo work, Thin Lizzy (a wonderful run through Jailbreak) and one from his “day job” – Black Star Riders Finest Hour.
Unsurprisingly, songs from Warwick’s splendid When Live Was Hard And Fast album pepper the set with a snarling Never Corner A Rat and the joyous title track highlights. The heavy rock ceilidh that is Schwaben Redoubt should have got the Islington Academy doing Irish reels, but alas, it didn’t. This had nothing to do with the band’s efforts on stage. I think the beer at Islington Academy has been laced with Mogadon.
The set closes with a steamroller through Motörhead’s Iron Fist that would have made Lemmy smile and a celebratory lap of The Almighty classic Free And Easy.
Ricky Warwick And The Fighting Hearts put in a brilliantly committed performance. It’s such a shame that they didn’t get the audience this gig deserved, as many London gig-goers are still showing Covid-19 reluctance. I know for a fact that his gigs in Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast tore the roof off the respective venues, which is no less than this set deserves.
Ricky Warwick And The Fighting Hearts are returning to the UK for a few shows in May, and I hope, for their sake, that the audiences are more boisterous than the audience here in Islington tonight.
Portrait Of Red
Lies Lies Lies
Running For My Life
Devil Keeps Coming
Free To Do Whatever They Say
Where Are You Now?
Look Out For My Brother
Just A Ride
Ricky Warwick And The Fighting Hearts
Over The Edge
You Don’t Love Me
When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)
Never Corner A Rat
You’re My Rock’n’Roll
Tattoos And Alibis
When Life Was Hard And Fast
All Sussed Out
Free And Easy