Brian Downey’s Alive & Dangerous – Kensington, Nell’s Jazz And Blues Club – 25 November 2017 Print
Written by Jim Rowland   
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 04:20

So, I’m a drummer whose all-time favourite band is Thin Lizzy. Tonight’s a no brainer then – the legend that is Brian Downey with his new Alive & Dangerous band knocking out Lizzy classic after Lizzy classic.




This is the second of two sold out shows in London’s swanky Kensington, the culmination of a small European tour for the band, and their first shows in England. I’d actually never heard of this venue until I got there and realised it was what used to be called The Orange, a venue I played at a few times a long time ago. Tonight, it’s packed full of Thin Lizzy fanatics, so I fit right in.


First up are Manchester blues rockers Federal Charm, who come highly recommended and after seeing them for the first time, I can understand why. They deliver a high quality set of hard blues rock with a nod to the likes of old schoolers Led Zep and Free through to the Black Crowes and more contemporary acts like Temperance Movement. The musicianship is top notch with vocals to match. We’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys.


Alive & Dangerous’ set is, not surprisingly, largely based around the track listing of Thin Lizzy’s classic 1978 live album ‘Live & Dangerous’. It isn’t performed in sequence, and bizarrely they omit just one track from it, namely ‘Baby Drives Me Crazy’. That means we get all the big hitters like ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Cowboy Song’ (complete with huge audience sing along), ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ alongside the album’s arguably less well known, but equally brilliant, tracks like ‘Southbound’ and ‘Massacre’. If anyone was to question whether Brian Downey still has the chops, the answer is loud and clearly yes judging by his performance on ‘Warriors’ and ‘Sha La La’.




Just as we were expecting ‘Baby Drives Me Crazy’ towards the end of the set, the set list takes a great diversion and the band deliver a handful on non -‘L&D’ tracks like ‘The Rocker’, ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. Best of all is the surprise inclusion of ‘Jailbreak’ gem ‘Angel From The Coast’, which is an absolute delight for hard core Lizzy fanatics, and a track I’ve never seen performed live by anyone before. A rousing ‘Emerald’ rounds things off for the encore in fine style.


In the toilet after the show, a loud mouthed punter was moaning that a certain Thin Lizzy tribute act who have been treading the boards for close to thirty years were miles better than what we had just seen. If you are going to compare it note for note to the original Thin Lizzy, he may technically be right, but largely he was missing the point. That tribute act does not have Brian Downey, the Thin Lizzy drummer. Tonight was a celebration of Brian, Thin Lizzy and the genius songs of Phil Lynott. A celebration was had, and a good time was had by all. Apart from the grumpy bloke in the toilet who took it all far too seriously.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Andras Paul.


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