There are some musicians out there that have influenced inescapably the hard n’ heavy sound and actually raised a whole generation of fans who listen constantly to their records. Jack Starr fits perfectly in this category as both with Virgin Steele and (mainly) with his prolific solo career has left permanently his musical stamp on the heavy metal map. So, of course, we couldn’t miss Burning Starr’s virgin show in Athens, Greece and by the end of the night we were more than happy and justified by our decision.
The opening act was the Greek outfit of Crystal Winds that had the difficult task of warming up the few people that were present at the time. They also had to face tons of problems with their sound as we could barely hear a note from the bass player. Nevertheless, the band did the best they could and their traditional heavy metal (heavily influenced by Iron Maiden and Priest) went down well with the title track and the cover version of “Metal Daze” (Manowar) being the absolute highlights of their show.
The epic metallers Valor were up next and their appearance send a clear message to all those who wondered how come this band has such a loyal and strong following. With a tight sound (although they faced some problems, too) and an amazing performance by every single band member (but especially by the singer Vaggelis Krouskas), Valor presented an excellent set list and proved that they were the ideal support act for Burning Starr. Their song “Choices” was perfect and I strongly suggest to check out their latest, third album “The Yonder Answer”.
A few minutes before 22:00, Jack Starr, Ned Meloni, Rhino, Marta Gabriel and Todd Michael Hall hit the stage and everybody was excited to see for the very first time Burning Starr. I’d expected more people at the club but I guess that the financial crisis has hit harshly a lot of people although I must underline that this is sometimes a pitiful excuse as the show was announced months ago and every one had the necessary period to find money for the ticket. Nevertheless, we must focus on the show and the positive aspects of it.
First of all, I strongly believe that this is the best line-up that Burning Starr ever had! And I am not exaggerating…not even a little bit! Todd Michael Hall is one of the best heavy metal singers in the world and he had no problem whatsoever to reach even the highest notes during the show while his overall stage presence was excellent! Jack Starr was exactly as we’d expected him to be: cool and focused on his guitar duties while his unique sense of melody took us back in time and reminded us of all the great guitarists of the 70s and 80s (like Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Michael Schenker just to name a few). Ned Meloni is definitely a force to be reckoned with as his tight bass sound and his backing vocals adds all the essential elements to the Burning Starr sound. Rhino…well, everybody knows Rhino! He is one of the world’s best drummers and last night’s show was the perfect proof of what this guy is capable of! Last but not least, touring guitarist Marta Gabriel helped incredibly as a rhythm guitarist and gave 110% on stage.
The set list was really balanced and the band presented songs from almost the entire discography. We had the chance to listen to the following tracks: “The Flame That Never Dies”, “Blaze of Glory”, “Metal Generation”, “Evil Never Sleeps”, “Go Down Fighting”, “Light In The Dark”, “Burning Starr”, “No Turning Back”, “Here We Are”, “Land of the Dead”, “Sands of Time”, “False Messiah”, “Day of the Reaper”, “Fight The Thunder”, “Inquisitor”, “Children of the Storm”, “Conspiratos Sanctos” and a rendition of “Metal Warriors” (Manowar).
Some of the definite highlights were definitely: a) the flawless version of the anthemic (and already classic) “Sands of Time” that caused delirium to the fans that sang along throughout the whole duration of the song. As a matter of fact, the organizer of the show (Manolis Karazeris) convinced the band to play the song twice…b) the “trilogy” of the milestone “No Turning Back” record (Evil Never Sleeps, Light in the Dark, the title song) and c) the fact that the band decided to play one song from my all-time favorite Jack Starr record “Out of the Darkness”. While Todd was singing “False Messiah”, I couldn’t help but remembering the late Rhett Forrester who did an unbelievable version of the song 30 years ago!
All in all, it was a night to remember and we should thank both Burning Starr and the show promoter who gave us the opportunity to witness this amazing band.
Intro (Birth Through Fire), Unison Riff/Big Intro Inquisitor, The Flame That Never Dies, Go Down Fighting, No Turning Back, Land Of The Dead, Day Of The Reaper, False Messiah, Light In The Dark, Drum Intro/ Burning Starr, Jack Solo Intro/Conspiratos Sanctos, Metal Generation, Fight The Thunder, Fire And Rain, Sands Of Time, Here We Are, Blaze Of Glory, Children Of The Storm, Evil Never Sleeps Encore: Metal Warriors 2nd Encore: Sands Of Time