Thin Lizzy at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 13th December 2012
This has a been a big year for the reunited line-up of Thin Lizzy (featuring original members Brian Downy, Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton as well as newer additions Marco Mendoza on bass, Damon Johnson on guitar, and Belfast man Ricky Warwick on lead vocals). The band has been almost constantly on the road, either solo or as support for Guns N Roses on their European summer tour. In 2013 they will be releasing an album of newly written under a new name, and presumably taking a step back from the Lizzy legacy for the foreseeable future. Thus their Dublin show in the Olympia theatre, their last of the year, had been billed as somewhat of a farewell gig.
And while that’s about as believable as a Rolling Stones farewell tour actually being the last Stones tour, there is little doubt that the band give everything they had for this final show.
Opening for a band with such a massive musical legacy as Thin Lizzy is itself a daunting task, but if young Dublin band Sal Vitro were intimidated by either the big stage or the musical icons they were supporting, they didn’t show it. Instead they tore through a sizzling set of hard rock numbers that felt fresh, yet totally in tune with the classic rock sound of bands like Thin Lizzy. The sold out crowd were more than impressed by the young rockers, chanting their name and roaring in applause by the time they reached their last song.
As a result the audience were already in high spirits when Thin Lizzy exploded onto the stage with a relentless version of Are You Ready?, which quickly flowed into Jailbreak and Don’t Believe a Word.
Warwick is a gruff, hard edged frontman with little of Phil Lynott’s silky charisma, and as a result of this the current iteration of Thin Lizzy is a gritty, heavy metal experience, somewhat lacking in finesse. The band appeared most comfortable with songs at the heavier end of Lizzy’s musical catalogue; Angel of Death and Emerald being the real highlights. Their rendition of Whiskey in the Jar meanwhile, almost had more in common with Metallica’s cover version, complete with growling vocals, than the original folk inspired ballad.
Not that this really mattered. When Gorham and Johnson each stepped up to unleash evocative guitar solos during Still in Love with You they were greeted with rapturous applause. And when Gorham launched into that riff at the start of Whiskey in the Jar the audience went crazy. When the band played out the final slow notes of Cowboy Song, the crowd hung on their every move with anticipation, and sure enough the payoff came, when, as expected, they launched straight into a foot stomping version of The Boys are Back in Town.
This new Thin Lizzy is nothing if not reverential of its past. When they returned to the stage with Rosalie, Warwick called on the singing audience to give an extra loud cheer for “Mr Phil Lynott and Mr Gary Moore”. The final song of the night, Black Rose, further cemented the band’s dedication to remain true to its Irish roots, with its myth infused lyrics inspired by Irish legend.
As so while Warwick and the band as a whole are now more comfortable with the heavier songs, and most lost in the songs that were most distinctively Phil Lynott, it can’t be said that they aren’t a powerful rock band, capable of putting on one mighty show. The omens are good for any new material they come out with once freed from the burden of the band’s long history. And whenever they do return under the Thin Lizzy name, they should have no trouble finding a big audience to welcome the boys back to town with open arms.
Thin Lizzy Photo Gallery
Photos: Aled Owen-Thomas