Broomfield, Colorado 11-5-11
Photos by Susan Thorsen Photography
Quite some ago in a place very far away from where I am right now, there was a multi-talented young man with a dream that he was determined to make come true. The place was Dublin, Ireland, the time over 40 years ago, the man a very charismatic character that not only had extra-ordinary talents as a bass player and singer, but overwhelmingly phenomenal skills as a songwriter and lyricist. His name was Philip Parris Lynott and his dream was to form a band that had such a distinct sound made from dueling and harmonious lead guitars that it would leave an exclusive mark in the history rock music. Mr. Lynott’s dream band came true. He called it Thin Lizzy. He lived by his dream and he died by his dream, sadly only 15 years after creating it. Fortunately, Phil Lynott’s brilliant song writing skills have quite handily endured the tests of time and his legendary music continues to live on more than 25 years after his death.
With great pride and more energy than one could possibly imagine (yes, even on a very cold night in the altitude of Denver, Colorado which is typically very draining to those that aren’t used to it), the current lineup of Thin Lizzy includes several members that were originally hand-picked by Phil Lynott himself in the early days of the band. Original founding guitar master, Scott Gorham (also played in Phenomena and a founding member of 21 Guns), founding member drummer, Brian Downey and keyboardist, Darren Wharton (who also fronts his own band Dare) join forces with the amazing talents of bassist Marco Mendoza (formally of Thin Lizzy’s John Sykes era, Ted Nugent, Blue Murder/Sykes, George Lynch, Delores O’Riordan, Whitesnake, Soul Sirkus and Mendoza-Heredia-Neto), guitarist Damon Johnson (formally of Brother Cane, Alice Cooper, Whiskey Falls, Faith Hill, Sammy Hagar and Damn Yankees), and last but not least, Thin Lizzy’s voice and additional guitar player from northern Ireland, Ricky Warwick (formally of The Almighty, New Model Army and Circus Diablo).
Thin Lizzy’s show in the Mile High City was nothing short of excellence, greatness, perfection and spot on nostalgia. As they were opening for Black Label Society and Judas Priest, ‘Lizzy’s set was short in duration. This was very much to my dismay as I could watch this lineup perform their entire catalog of tunes without ever tiring of it. The power and energy of their set is really that amazing!
Starting out with the fast paced, “Are You Ready”, front man Ricky Warwick had the crowd on their feet and bouncing up and down to the beat from the get go. Sounding as close to Phil Lynott as any singer this band has ever had, Ricky enthusiastically maintained the highly energized momentum into the classic, “Waiting for an Alibi” and hit song, “Jailbreak”. Of course also included was other commercially well-known and crowd pleasing favorites, “The Cowboy Song” and “The Boys Are Back In Town”.
Just past midway through their set, the band respectfully paid a special tributary recognition to deceased band members Phil Lynott and Gary Moore. For those that don’t know Thin Lizzy’s early history, Gary was a guitar player who had worked with Phil Lynott since the late 1960’s. He surprisingly died in February of this year at 58 years old while on vacation in Spain.
Other songs like the melodic “Don’t Believe A Word” and the thumping battle song, “Emerald”, showcased the spectacular rhythm section of Marco Mendoza and Brian Downey keeping perfect time together while the technically flawless skills of both guitar aces Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson playfully dueled it out in impeccable Gaelic harmony. Backed up by keyboard whiz, Darren Wharton, it was evident that this was only one of the many memorable Thin Lizzy highlights that the band greatly enjoyed playing and crowd loved hearing.
Also covered to perfection was the hard-rocking song, “Killer On The Loose”, a song about British prostitute murderer, Jack the Ripper , and “Rosalie” – a tune originally written by rocker, Bob Seger in tribute to Rosalie Trombley, the program director of a leading top 40 radio station in Windsor, Ontario in the 1960s and ’70s. Closing out the set was the melodic, “Black Rose”, a classic Irish folksong that focuses on the very well-defined and harmonious engagement of guitars – the foundation from which this band was built – with lyrics that reflect on the history of Ireland (i.e., “Rose”) before the British came…
“Tell me the legends of long ago,
When the kings and queens would dance in the realm of the Black Rose.
Play me their melodies I want to know,
So I can teach my children, oh”
Though ‘Lizzy has in the past been accused of having a “revolving door” of continually changing guitarists, this line-up’s camaraderie seems to be as a team supporting the same mission of keeping this legendary music flourishing. They clearly make it apparent that this is undeniably the strongest collaboration of players since Phil was alive. Each one of these six musicians is talented and skilled enough on his own to single-handedly carry his own show. And each does when they aren’t touring together as Thin Lizzy. Put them all together as Thin Lizzy though, and not only do you experience an incredible déjà vu of rock music history, but you also encounter so much individual talent happening before you that it’s straight out mind boggling! Don’t miss this show if you can help it – Thin Lizzy’s love and appreciation for their fans is nothing short of spectacular!