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Hammersmith Apollo, 22 January 2011
25 years ago
one of rock's great characters, musicians and storytellers, Phillip
Parris Lynott, fell victim to the rock n roll lifestyle at just 36. But
the Thin Lizzy legend has never looked healthier and this anniversary
has seen renewed activity in the Lizzy camp, from a BBC4 documentary to
a new line-up undertaking a UK tour.
For the last
decade and a half, a declining number of former Thin Lizzy members had
been touring to keep the name alive, but John Sykes' metallised stylings
and clichéd posing were becoming increasingly tiresome and when they
parted company 18 months ago, I was pleased that the Lizzy name was not
being tarnished further.
year came news of an intriguing new line-up with long-time guitarist
Scott Gorham partnered by Vivian Campbell on a sabbatical from Def
Leppard, Ricky Warwick ex of the Almighty singing, keyboardist Darren
Wharton back in the band, and best of all, drummer and founder member
Brian Downey back in the fold.
from two bands - punky Americans the Supersuckers, who unfortunately I
missed out on, and FM, seemingly the hardest gigging band around
right now, making up for their long absence. It was also on this stage
nearly 26 years ago that I first saw them, supporting Reo Speedwagon!
(Kevin Cronin's pink jump suit that day still gives me recurring
nightmares, but I digress....)
rockers played a 40 minute set with most of the classics such as That
Girl and Bad Luck, and newer songs like rocky opener Wildside. I sensed
most of the Lizzy fans there were unfamiliar with their material,
although the dual lead guitar solos in Face to Face and Over You would
have given them a sense of déjà vu.
A few of us
did head to the front during I Heard it through the Grapevine, and with
the band on top form, and Steve Overland's vocals as superb as ever, I
hope they made some new friends.
business. The $64,000 question is - has the new line up recaptured the
classic Lizzy Sound? Up to a point is the answer: it was great not to
hear the subtlety of the songs drowned out by squealing guitar solos or
over the top drumming, but when you add Ricky's rhythm guitar and the
keyboards, at times it was just too noisy with the songs not given space
Scott are a well matched pairing, and the famous harmony lead guitars
were on fine form, while the latter seemed rejuvenated - I have never
seen him look so animated whereas in the previous line up, stage-wise if
not musically, he seemed firmly in Sykes' shadow. He also appeared to
take the lion's share of the solos too.
I was never
a fan of The Almighty who I thought a poor man's Motorhead, but Ricky
Warwick could barely be faulted. His voice has a naturally rougher edge
than Philip Lynott but his vocal phrasing was respectably close to the
original. He is also a confident frontman and looks the rock n roll part
in his western shirt and tattooed arms, although his handlebar moustache
should be confined to a 1970's adult movie.
With a fine
stage set with the iconic Lizzy logo prominent in neon, the set got off
to a flying start, with classics Are You Ready, Waiting for An Alibi and
Jailbreak rattled off with barely a pause for breath. Generally it was a
greatest hits set with the likes of Don't Believe a Word, Dancing in the
Moonlight and Emerald, but there were a number of surprise touches.
included Do Anything you Wanna Do, complete with the guitarists pounding
out the intro on drums, Angel of Death with its typically early 80's
futuristic keyboard intro, Still in Love with You with Darren and Ricky
sharing the vocals and great solos from both guitarists, and a brilliant
version of Whiskey in the Jar with Vivian producing the solo of the
But my own
favourite moment was hearing the rarely played Wild One from 1975's
Fighting, a song whose lyrics about a restless spirit and harmony lead
guitars showcase peak time Lizzy at their best.
got to do his drum solo during Sha-La-La and they ended with the usual
one-two punch of my favourite ever Lizzy song Cowboy Song and Boys Are
Back in Town, with even the balcony getting to their feet.
curious as to the encores but Rosalie, complete with audience
participation, and Bad Reputation, rocked the place before a sensational
version of another classic, Black Rose, with a frenzied duel of
Celtic-themed guitar solos, rounded off the night.
one or two songs I was surprised not to hear - Suicide, The Rocker - but
that would be carping. This was a show that restored the tarnished Lizzy
legend and would have delighted the man himself.
Photos by Noel Buckley
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