Monday, October 10, 2011

Thin Lizzy - Live in London 2011



To me, it was inconceivable.

Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott could be a lot of things, but Thin Lizzy wasn't one of em.  A cover band.  A tribute, perhaps.  but not Thin Lizzy.  Not the real thing.

Well, Phil can never be replaced.  He remains one of the most galvanizing, mercurial figures in rock history.  But the new version of Thin Lizzy playing his music are good.  Damn good.

Twenty five years have passed since Phil's untimely death.  The world has changed, but the amazing body of work that is Thin Lizzy still retains all of its vibrancy and influence. A new lineup has formed to take Lizzy's music to a whole new generation of music fans. Led by alumni Scott Gorham, Brian Downey and Darren Wharton (all of whom played in Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott) the stellar lineup is completed by Def Leppard's Viv Campbell (guitar), Bassist Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Ted Nugent) and The Almighty's Ricky Warwick on vocals and guitar.

So where to start?  With Scott Gorham and Viv Campbell on guitar you knew the axe work was gonna be just fine.  Acutally, it's better than that.  It's as awesome as Lizzy ever were.  Gorham, of course, has the Lizzy touch, and Campbell brings that melodic harmony guitar work in seamlessly.  In truth, he would've fit in just fine with the band back in the day, his playing is that good.  Drums are solid with the original Downey pounding the skins, and Mendoza does an admirable job on bass.  Darren Wharton is another Lizzy alum playing just fine.  So without a doubt, musically, this version of Thin Lizzy sounds as good and tight as any version of the band.  Those trademark guitars just sing like angelic harmonies aimed right at the heart.

So really, the question is the front man.  Who could do it?  Who has the balls and the proper charisma to take the place of Phil on stage.  Talk about being set up to fail!  Well, let me tell you, the Lizzy boys couldn't have found a better man than Ricky Warwick.  Nothing in his resume of the Almighty or New Model Army prepared me for what I heard.

First off, Ricky doesn't try to ape Phil.  But his phrasing is about as dead-on perfect as you could ask for.  His throaty deep tenor sound enough like Phil that if you didn't know who it was, at times you could be fooled.  But it's done right.  It feels natural, not like Ricky is trying to be Phil or even sound like Phil.  It just sounds like the way the songs are supposed to be sung.  And this is critical.  Any firestorm directed at the band would be aimed right at Ricky, and damn if the man doesn't have the cajones to pull it off.  Hats off to you Ricky.   Really.

So with that said, what have we got here?  A killer set of fantastic Lizzy songs, fired up and ready to bring Phil's music and the Lizzy sound to a new generation.  "Jailbreak" is as mean and fierce as ever.  "Don't Believe a Word", one of my favorite lost Lizzy cuts, sounds razor sharp.  Killer and to the point.  "Massacre" another mind-blowing highlight is on fire, with that spectacular guitar work lighting up the night sky.  Ricky really shines here, pulling the spirit of Phil out of rock and roll heaven right back down to the stage. 

"The Boys are Back in Town," is pulsating and pounding, "Rosalie" is inspired, and "Bad Reputation" is street grit and pulsating sex.  In between we get the whole spectrum of Lizzy's catalog, 19 tracks in all. 

Phil is gone and missed.  No one can ever replace him.  But let me tell you, Live in London 2011 stands true as a fine Lizzy album, the music sounding fresh and new, ready to incite the fire in a new generation of fans.  If you're a Thin Lizzy fan, you won't be disappointed.

--Racer



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