Released: 2011, Concert Live
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There’s a reason why heavy hitters from Crowbar to Metallica to Anthrax cite these guys as inspiration; Phil Lynott and company wrote some great songs. Heavy, hard rockin’, full of swagger and working man’s groove, Thin Lizzy has a stellar catalog that still holds up decades after the fact. Though there’s been a touring incarnation of Thin Lizzy active for some time now featuring various members of the band’s legacy lineup, Lizzy’s current incarnation has been all over the press lately. In addition to old school alumni Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, and Darren Wharton, the band features the criminally underrated Ricky Warwick on vocals, Vivian Campbell on guitar (in an on again/off again role), and Marco Mendoza on bass. So while I’m generally suspect of “tribute” acts like this and had intentionally stayed away from hearing what the new band sounded like, it’s hard to deny the potency of the current lineup on paper. To my surprise, I found that the current version of Thin Lizzy had released a 2-CD live album, LIVE IN LONDON 2011 recorded at Hammersmith Apollo earlier this year. So yes, it’s time to hear what all the fuss is about.
The short version of the story is that Thin Lizzy 2011 sounds great. If there was ever a vocalist that could do these songs justice, it’s Ricky Warwick. His naturally delivery isn’t too far removed from Lynott’s and you can feel his reverence for the songs as he’s crooning along. Yeah there are spots where he sounds like he’s laying it on a bit thick, but the dude gives a great performance. The track list across the album is pretty healthy as well and covers all of the band’s standards. Classics like “Jailbreak,” “Don’t Believe a Word” and “Bad Reputation” sound just as good as they ever did, and the performances from the rest of the band are spot on, especially the Gorham/Campbell guitar harmonies on tunes like “Emerald” and “Massacre.”
The one thing that struck me was that the overall “sound” of the recording was pretty raw, sans any studio cleanup. Which as I read further into the press notes for the album, I found that the CDs of the performance were pressed on site almost immediately after the actual performance had ended and were made available to the audience for purchase at the end of the show. #1) that’s pretty cool, and #2) it shows that the band’s got real confidence in their performance.
But here’s the rub - as good as the album is and as close to the mark that the band gets, I don’t know that I’d be compelled to spin this disc over ALIVE AND DANGEROUS, ‘09s STILL DANGEROUS, or any of the Lynott era bootlegs in circulation. Which leaves you with the impression that the album is intend more as a validation of the band’s current existence, rather than a necessary addition to the Thin Lizzy discography. And I’d wager that even the most open minded Lizzy fan would be inclined to agree on that. Strictly on its own merit though, LIVE IN LONDON 2011 is a solid collection of classic tunes performed with the style and grace that the band’s reputation demands.