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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Thin Lizzy

Live In Chicago, IL, April 2011

Review by Greg Olma

There have been countless discussions on whether Thin Lizzy should be out there doing tours without Phil Lynott.  I understand some of the arguments but I happen to fall into the category of folks who love Thin Lizzy music and I will support whatever incarnation is out there.  I saw the John Sykes fronted version a few times and thought it was a great band.  Now, a new version is out making the touring rounds and to my ears, it was even better.

Let’s get one thing out of the way.  Lynott can not be replaced.  He was so unique that to try to copy him would be not only impossible, it would be insulting.  The new version I saw did not try to fool you into thinking this was the Thin Lizzy from 1977 but instead, they took that spirit and brought it out in 2011.  Ricky Warwick from The Almighty is taking care of the vocals (along with some guitars) and he is a great singer in his own right.  For this tour however, he is channeling the spirit of Lynott and bringing a different side of his vocals.  Sure, he doesn’t sound exactly the same but his phrasing and performance does these songs justice.  The show opened with “Are You Ready” and from the moment the first chord hit, you could tell Warwick and company were going to put on a great show.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma

Scott Gorham was all smiles throughout and he brought with him some old Lizzy members.  Brian Downey and Darren Wharton have not toured (in the States) since 1996.  Marco Mendoza has been on and off with them a few times but it was great seeing him back in the fold.  To round out the twin guitar sound, Gorham brought along what might have seemed like a strange choice but in the end I could not have picked a better guitarist.  Vivian Campbell, from Dio, Whitesnake, and currently Def Leppard, played the Brian Robertson part perfectly and even added a little of his own style here and there. 

Greg Olma
Greg Olma

I have to say that the song selection from the Sykes version was getting a little stale.  I don’t know what kind of band politics went on back then, but this current set list is awesome.  Of course they played the hits like “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back In Town,” but they brought back deep cuts like “Killer On The Loose” and “Massacre.”  Gorham and crew also brought back “Whiskey In A Jar” which was a huge hit in Europe but never really made a dent here.  Even though “Still In Love With You” has been in the set list for quite some time, they changed it up a bit by having Wharton take over the lead vocal duties.  He did a great job and I’m glad they brought him back into the fold.

Greg Olma
Greg Olma

The fact that this was the last date of the East Coast tour made it perfect for special guests.  Mars Williams made an appearance playing sax on “Dancing In The Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight).”  Vivian Campbell will be taking a break from Thin Lizzy and going back to his day job with Def Leppard so to break in his replacement they let Richard Fortus play guitar on “Emerald” and “Cowboy Song.”  Warwick told us that they would be coming back again this year and I will certainly be there.  If you missed any of the shows, you truly missed a great event.  You can debate the legitimacy of Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott to the end of time but one thing that is for sure is that this current band does his music proud.  The Thin Lizzy catalogue is in very capable hands.

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Greg Olma
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
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