at The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., January 8, 2011

To some, a Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott does not bear thinking about, but the reality is he is never coming back and it would be a crying shame if such a wonderful catalog of songs was left to languish at the back of our distant memories. Scott Gorham and Brian Downey were such an integral part of the classic Lizzy sound that they have every right to play these songs, and with Darren Wharton from the post Chinatown band onboard too, there were three bona fide Lizzy members in the line-up making any cheap references to a tribute band totally groundless.

The decision to head out on the road is clearly vindicated by the number of venues who sold out almost as soon as the tickets went on sale. The packed City Hall buzzed with anticipation to the extent that a large number of punters vacated the bar to check out Luke Morley’s new band The Union, which also featured his sidekick in Thunder, Chris Childs, on bass. It was perhaps local boy Pete Shoulder that really shined, backed by a vociferous bunch of friends and family cheering him on. His deep, Bluesy voice belies his youthful blonde, surfer boy looks, and his Chris Cornell-tinged vocals added a real depth to the likes of “Watch The River Flow”. A proud Morley looked over at his prodigy safe in the knowledge that something special has been beginning to develop. The Union are a band on the up and ones to keep an eye out for in the future.
Thin Lizzy

It’s incredible to think the last time Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, and Darren Wharton played together at this venue was 28 years ago, on March 21, 1983 to be precise, when one rather more youthful writer gawped starry eyed from Row F41 in the balcony as Lizzy’s career drew to a close on the Thunder and Lightning tour, so this show was greeted with a great sense of anticipation by a fair few people in the hall.

The crowd needed no prompting by the cries of “Are You Ready”. Before the curtain fell, the huge illuminated “Thin Lizzy” logo burst to life, flanked by two huge video screens, and the band hit the stage to that very song before launching into “Waiting For An Alibi” and “Jailbreak”, with barely a pause for breath.
Thin Lizzy

As Gorham, new vocalist Ricky Warwick, and Vivian Campbell accompanied Brian Downey on the drum intro to “Do Anything You Want To Do”, it was clear this was a hugely revitalized band that was well up for the show and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the vibrant crowd.

Ricky Warwick, with his Northern Irish accent, complemented the songs perfectly and relished his new role. He had the most difficult job of them all and really did pull out all of the stops and proved a much more animated and charismatic frontman than the John Sykes fronted band.

Vivian Campbell played the foil to Lizzy veteran Scott Gorham, and delivered a less metallic performance than his predecessor John Sykes, giving the band a more authentic ’70s sound, which enabled the more subtle intricacies of Lizzy’s music to shine through. If there was any criticism of Campbell, then maybe there was not enough interaction with his sparring partner as he seemed to prefer to keep to his own side of the stage for most of the show. It’s worth noting, however, that this is only the THIRD show that this line-up has played, so no doubt these small issues will be ironed out as the tour progresses.
Thin Lizzy

Having Brian Downey back has clearly been a huge shot in the arm for the band, and although the likes of Michael Lee and Tommy Aldridge played solidly, they lacked Downey’s finesse and sense of rhythm. His style may appear to be relaxed, but it is his backbeat and groove that drives the band forward and no more so than on his center piece “Sha La La”. Downey and the returning bassist Marco Mendoza, who oozes Rockstar from every pore, supplied the solid backbone around which the band built the songs.

The great thing about Lizzy is the diversity of their material, whether it’s the touching ballads like “Dancing In The Moonlight” and “Still In Love With You”, which featured Warwick and Darren Wharton sharing lead vocals (giving an inspired lift to the classic); the Pop brilliance of “The Boy’s Are Back In Town”, the crunching Rockers such as the twin guitar attack of “Massacre”, and the foreboding menace of “Angel of Death” from the criminally underrated Renegade album; not to mention the epic glory of “Emerald” and set closer “Black Rose” … there really was something for everyone. It’s easy to see why Lizzy were one of the few Rock bands that genuinely were able to cross barriers from Rock, Pop, Punk and beyond, yet still retain their Rock credentials without selling out.
Thin Lizzy

At the end of the show, a beaming Scott Gorham, who was outstanding throughout, looked out at the cheering crowd and across at the new incarnation of Thin Lizzy safe in the knowledge that this was simply the best version of the band that there has been since the sad demise of Phil Lynott a quarter of a century ago. Anyone who is sceptical or retains any doubts should really check them out; you can be assured that you will come home well and truly won over by a great band. Welcome back Thin Lizzy!
Thin Lizzy


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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