Thin Lizzy/The Quireboys - London, Shepherd’s Bush Empire - 17th December 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rowland   
Thursday, 10 January 2013 03:00

Back in 1983, at my very first festival, Reading Rock ‘83, I saw the UK farewell performance of Thin Lizzy, to this day they are still my favourite band. Little did I realise then that 29 years later I would be attending another Thin Lizzy ‘farewell’ concert, albeit with a very different line up and under very different circumstances. As most of us know by now, most members of this latest incarnation of Lizzy, with Ricky Warwick taking the lead, have a new album in the pipeline and have, quite rightly, decided to drop the Thin Lizzy name in favour of a new moniker (just announced as Black Star Riders) for a new album, thus respecting Phil Lynott’s Thin Lizzy legacy. So this tour, with this being the final date, is UK fans’ last chance to gaze upon that famous mirrored logo one last time.


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Like a lot of hardcore Lizzy fans, I was very sceptical about this new line up when they first appeared on the scene a few years back, and I was just as vocal with the “how can it be Lizzy without Phil?” argument as many still are. Still, I was enticed to the Indigo2 venue by a freebie ticket when they first started a few years back, to make my mind up once and for all. Did it take long for my seal of approval? About five seconds actually, because as soon as that first chord to ‘Jailbreak’ struck up and I saw Brian Downey behind the kit and under the aforementioned mirror logo, I realised the name ‘Thin Lizzy’ was in the safest hands it could be minus Phil. Since then I’ve seen them at just about every opportunity I could get and loved it every time. So tonight, perhaps for the last time ever, I once again enter a concert hall for another fix of Thin Lizzy.


Openers The Quireboys, as they always do, provide just what the doctor ordered to get the party going tonight, as Spike leads the band though a great set of whiskey soaked, good time rock’n’roll, playing all the usual hits to a thoroughly deserved great reception. We’ve all seen them millions of times before, and I’m sure we’ll all see them millions of times again. Nuff said.


Perched with an eagle eye view on the level one balcony, I’m in prime position to watch every movement of Thin Lizzy as they launch into ‘Are You Ready?’ The set is largely the same as the band have been performing for the last year or so, based around a core of the ‘Live And Dangerous’ set with several welcome additions. ‘Killer On The Loose’ and ‘Chinatown’ is a lethal double dose from one of their most underrated albums, ‘Massacre’ rocks big time and Darren Wharton shines on a superb version of ‘Angel Of Death’. ‘Still In Love With You’ is a pretty emotional moment, with Wharton and Warwick sharing the vocal duties well.


Brian Downey, for me one of the most underrated and god-like drummers in the history of rock, and, of course, the only true original member of the band, still makes it all look so damn effortless, and Scott Gorham, not far off an original member, still looks like to coolest gunslinger in town. Damon Johnson has slotted in really well in the Brian Robertson role and Ricky Warwick has really grown into that most difficult of roles, becoming a formidable front man for the band.


‘Whiskey In The Jar’ is a rousing sing along, ‘Emerald’ is just pure class, and ‘Suicide’, ‘Cowboy Song’ and set closer ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ truly rock this great venue. ‘Rosalie’ and an awesome ‘Black Rose’ tie things up as a great encore. This was a suberb way for Thin Lizzy to bow out once again in the UK, before they head off for one last hurrah in Australia with Kiss and Motley Crue.


One small criticism I would have though is that given the wealth of great material Thin Lizzy has to choose from, they never really varied the set as much as they could have done. In the past they have resurrected the likes of ‘Wild One’, ‘Hollywood’, ‘Do Anything You Want To’ or even ‘The Rocker’, but largely the set has remained as it was tonight. This line up really has worked a treat, and they have thrilled us at gigs and festivals admirably over the last few years, but seeing as they haven’t really varied the set that much, perhaps it was the right time for them to move on before it all got a bit stale. And move on they will, sadly minus Downey and Wharton, as Black Star Riders with a new album and tour next year. We’ll wait with interest to see what they come up with. Whether we’ll see Thin Lizzy again I suppose depends on the success of that project, but this Thin Lizzy has been a huge success, restoring the name tainted by John Sykes’ dodgy metalised version of Thin Lizzy several years back.


Of course we should never forget why Thin Lizzy have been knocking out killer gigs like this over the past few years. It’s ultimately down to the songs of one Philip Lynott, the greatest rocker of them all.


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