Thin Lizzy/Supersuckers - Bristol, Colston Hall - 16th January 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Sunday, 23 January 2011 05:00



Sometime towards the end of proceedings tonight, Thin Lizzy frontman Ricky Warwick sprints the full width of Colston Hall's historic stage, vaults the monitors in front of him in some demented goal scoring celebration and sprays the front few rows with his sweat drenched full force loving machine mop of hair. So what was the crowd's reaction to this unquestionable show of enthusiasm from Ireland's newest favourite son? Polite applause.... yup polite applause, as no one dare stand up for fear of ejection from a security team with its rock 'n' roll alarm clock set firmly on half past Michael Bolton.  So whilst whoever put this rather splendid bill together should be fully commended for getting the blend of old and even older band just right, they also scored a major own goal by putting a full on Rock 'N' Roll event like this in a seated venue, for this reviewer at least, it turned what could have been a very early gig of the year contender into simply a great night out. But enough of my moaning, right?


The last time I'd witnessed Supersuckers live it was about a quarter of a mile away at the city's legendary Thekla club, a show that had obviously also stuck in the band's memory, as frontman/bassist Eddie Spaghetti dipped into anecdotes from his nautical experiences that crazy night throughout the band's forty odd minutes on stage. Whilst Supersuckers records may not Eddiebe selling this year, due largely to the fact that the band haven't released anything new since 2008's 'Get It Together' album, in the live arena it's a different game all together, and it is so obvious the fearsome foursome relish their places as musical outlaws on this tour.  A Django-esque intro tape setting the scene perfectly for the dozen or so songs that followed, giving the packed out Thin Lizzy audience (who I have to admit lapped up every minute) a glimpse of what has been great about the last twenty odd years of Rock 'N' Roll' music.


Mixing three new songs (the best of which I'm assuming was called 'Go' given how many times they chanted the word) within an otherwise classic crammed set, the highlights for me were a brutal mauling of 'The Evil Powers of Rock 'N' Roll' and the tongue in cheek version of 'Born With A Tail' that had every weekend warrior flicking the bird like would be Craig Tuckers (Google it).  With Mr Spaghetti promising to sign, wipe or lick anything presented to him at the merch booth during the changeover between bands, it certainly wasn't a surprise to see the cowboy hatted reprobate mobbed soon after.  If nothing else these long-term fans (every time I've seen them previously they have always played a Lizzy cover) must feel like they are living in a dream world right now, but perhaps not quite as much as the one Ricky Warwick finds himself in.


In just six very short months, the former Almighty frontman has gone from playing pubs and clubs up and down the country in support of his sterling 'Belfast Confetti' album, to fronting one of the most legendary "almost" bands of our generation. Thin Lizzy (just like UFO) being a band who almost had it all but eventually almost lost it all in a cloud of excess. Excess that seemingly 3lizzy240hung around them in one form or another to the point when our live paths finally crossed at 2008's Hard Rock Hell festival.  However good Lizzy's' performance was that night, then frontman/guitarist John Sykes was obviously not going to be around the band for much longer and lo and behold a few months later, prior to a scheduled appearance at the inaugural Sonisphere festival, the band announced his departure.


Regrouping for the first time in their history as a six piece, with not only the aforementioned Mr Warwick, but also Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, Marco Mendoza and Vivian Campbell, Scott Gorham finally has a line up that can hold its head high as a fitting tribute to the late great Phil Lynott, and his band's musical legacy. And with an "original" original line up member now back in the band (in the shape of Brian Downey) anyone decrying this as a simple cash in seriously needs to get a reality check.


Nine nights in to this fourteen date tour, and I cannot think of a place I'd rather be on a Sunday night than stood (OK I'm sat), a few feet away from such a musical tour de force blasting out classics like the opening trio of 'Are You Ready', Waiting For An Alibi' and 'Jailbreak' as if flared hipsters had never gone out of fashion. 'Jailbreak' coincidently was the first time I realised Vivian Campbell was actually on stage, as he casually sauntered forward from his previous backline hugging position to let loose with one of the best guitar solos I've heard in a long long time. And it was his understated yet perfectly complimentary role as guitar counterpoint to Scott Gorham that made me turn to a recently returned from photographic duties Gaz E and say "He's the real find here..." I'm not sure how many will agree with that, but throughout the band's ninety minute set the big money boy certainly had no ego or qualms about playing another guitarists (however many that would have been) music, in fact I think he relished it. Just as much as the "happy as a road hog in the mud" Ricky Warwick who, by the time the band were unleashing 'Don't Believe A Word' was sans guitar and running around like a man half his age.


Mid set and the band had by now covered most (but not all) Thin Lizzy albums up to and including 'Renegade' with a reworked 'Angel of Death' that immediately brought back memories of an era when Gillan would have been playing this venue the night after, and Motorhead would Thin_Lizzy072have played the night before. Keeping with all things Darren Wharton, his dual vocal with Ricky on 'Still In Love With You' was as beautiful as it needs to be when Lynott himself isn't around to sing it, but again the true highlight of this track, despite what you might read elsewhere, was Scott Gorham and Vivian Campbell's guitar playing.


Closing out their set with a trio of 'Live and Dangerous' numbers that started with 'Sha La La' (complete with Downey solo) and ended with 'The Boys Are Back In Town' it was the last chance thrill of being down at Deano's Bar And Grill that finally saw the audience overcome their fear of standing up and tell the man to go fuck himself, and you know what, suddenly my world was a much better place. 


Encoring with a heartfelt tribute to Lynott from Ricky Warwick via 'Rosalie', 'Bad Reputation' soon followed, as did the epic set closer Róisín Dubh (Black Rose), and as the final chords rang out I personally could have stayed all night.  As it was, I was off home to dig out my copy of the superb 'The Rocker' book by Mark Putterford and await the arrival of my expanded editions of 'Jailbreak', 'Johnny The Fox' and 'Live and Dangerous', all three due to hit my doormat any time now.  


For those of you who have missed out on seeing Thin Lizzy this time around, don't believe a word of what the sceptics out there are saying right now, this was a quality Rock 'N' Roll show played in the true spirit of Thin Lizzy, and as Ricky said recently "it's all about bringing Phil Lynott's songs to the people", and for that reason alone long may it continue.


Photo Kudos Gaz E