Recorded over three shows in 1976 and 1977, but released in 1978, Live And Dangerous is still universally considered to be one of, if not, the best live albums to ever be released. It is, thereby, enjoying not one but two 40th anniversary celebrations.
And talking about those celebrations, former Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey has assembled a tight and tasteful band to play choice cuts from this live album with the care, consideration and the attention to its fine detail that this seminal release clearly deserves!
Chances are that if you were listening to rock music in the 70’s and early 80’s, then you were probably humming along to “The Boys Are Back In Town”, “Don’t Believe A Word” and “Rosalie” as it pumped its melodic rock sunshine out of your tinny radio speaker. Thin Lizzy was a pied-piper of a band that attracted a gang of devoted followers wherever their music played, most of whom are here tonight to witness Brian Downey’s Alive And Dangerous paying homage to Lizzy’s legacy back in London Town.
It would be so easy, and trite, to dismiss corkscrewed hair lead vocals/bassist Matt Wilson as just another fake Phil, that is until he lets loose on opening song “Jailbreak” with a bucket load of that star quality called charisma. Wilson’s personality controlled proceedings from the off with a strong individual voice of his own and deft bass playing to boot. Coupled with the beautiful trademark sound of twin guitar harmonies played bang on the nail, with flair, by guitarists Phil Edgar and Brian Grace, the realisation that Downey is certainly onto to something here is hair-raising.
It’s clearly apparent that this is no tribute band, but a group led from the back by an original member and co-songwriter who is preserving and furthering the music that is evidently still enjoyed by so many. Certainly, the sold-out 400 capacity venue is a testament to this, singing along and punching the air like marching men, and women, coming down from the glen.
As Downey sat behind his sparkling emerald green drum kit counting in the songs with a flash of blurred hand speed, “Southbound” lilted in with its impeccably played sentimental guitar harmonies. It was at this moment that I noticed two young vintage dressed Lizzy ladies, down the front, swooning and singing along caught in a moment that lasted for the whole show; such is the legendary power of these songs to still capture the hearts and souls of a crowd. “Rosalie” had the both of them, and the whole crowd, bouncing and fist-pumping along until the tempo slowed with a majestic “Still In Love With You” followed by the tiptoe riff to “Dancing In the Moonlight”.
It’s worth remembering that back in the day Lizzy wrote and performed songs that would make any current rock band instant superstars. They seemed to roll out funky rock tunes like “Johnny The Fox” with ease and played tonight with the total dedication of a band rehearsed to the bone. But the real test of tonight’s set arrived at the moment when Matt Wilson chirped: ‘I am just a cowboy, lonesome in the trail’. With the crowd singing along to “The Cowboy Song” as one, the band crashed into the chorus of ‘Roll me over and turn me around’ by when they could have sold snake oil to every individual tonight, such was the magic spell that they created.
The anthemic joy-ride of “The Boys Are Back In Town” kept the, by now, party atmosphere purring along so much that if you closed your eyes you could be transported back to that hot, everlasting summer of 1976! Heavy takes on “Don’t Believe A Word” with scintillating guitar solos, made way for the crime noir narrative of Suicide delivered with firm menace by Downey’s well-drilled cohorts.
Enthusiastically received encores including “Whiskey In The Jar”, “Bad Reputation” and an epic “Emerald” sealed the deal on tonight’s triumphant tour-de-force. Those two vintage dressed Lizzy ladies and the whole venue wildly celebrated a magnificent show for the faithful, as the band took a well-earned and fully deserved front of stage bow.
2018 promises to be a big year for Brian Downey’s Alive And Dangerous, now that is certainly something to celebrate!
Words: Paul Davies / Photos: Andras Paul
Event Date: 24-Nov-2017