At The Empire, Middlesbrough, U.K., December 5, 2012

THIN LIZZY (Live at The Empire, Middlesbrough, U.K., December 5, 2012)
Photo: Mick Burgess

The recent announcement of the impending retirement of the Thin Lizzy name meant that this may well be the last chance to see the band in this incarnation.

However, the good news is that the current line- up of the band will be recording the first album of new material since the bands 1983 release, Thunder and Lightning. The main difference being the new album will be released with a new band name out of respect to the sadly departed legendary frontman Phil Lynott. This is a bold move that will avoid any flak from those that say the band should not continue without Lynott yet will allow the band to flourish as a new entity, much in the same way as Heaven and Hell escaped from the spectre of the Ozzy fronted Black Sabbath.

Lynott was the heart and soul of Thin Lizzy and when he died in 1986 it seemed as though the band was gone forever. Over the last few years however, under the guidance of long-time guitarist Scott Gorham, Lizzy has risen again and toured with varying line ups with the current featuring original drummer Brian Downey and keyboardist Darren Wharton from the Chinatown era of the band. Ricky Warwick, former frontman of The Almighty and fellow Irishman, had the unenviable task of filling the huge shoes left by Lynott and to his great credit has done a sterling job.

The Empire was absolutely packed as the Northern fans clamoured to see Thin Lizzy for one final time. The classics came thick and fast with “Jailbreak”, “Killer on the Loose” and “Cowboy Song” sounding vibrant and fresh. The recent addition of Brother Cane and Alice Cooper guitarist Damon Johnson has been the final piece of the puzzle bringing the finesse and style back the band that was missing with the heavier direction that former guitarist John Sykes brought to the band. Johnson and Gorham have captured the trademark dual guitar harmonies to perfection and this was particularly evident on “Don’t Believe A Word” and “Massacre”.

The rhythm section featuring the fine shuffle of Brian Downey and bass of the charismatic Marco Mendoza locked tightly giving the rest of the band the platform to build on and they looked like they were having an absolute blast on stage and this transferred into the buoyant and exuberant crowd.

They may have played in the region three times this year but songs such as “Are You Ready” and “Boys are Back In Town” never seem to lose their shine. There’s few band around where every single song is a classic but Lizzy’s set is packed to bursting point with them. Even when they dig deep into the back catalogue they manage to unearth a gem such as the hard hitting “Angel of Death” from the hugely underrated Renegade album.

As they close the show with a livewire “Rosalie” and the epic “Black Rose” there are mixed feelings that although this may be the closing chapter for Thin Lizzy there is a rebirth as a new band, a new name and more importantly a new album just round the corner meaning there’s plenty to look forward to in 2013.


  • 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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