Thin Lizzy with support from Trucker Diablo
Wednesday 12th December 2012 – Limelight, Belfast
12/12/12 was a strange day for music lovers. While Paul McCartney headed up a strangely pseudo-Nirvana reunion in New York, the beer swilling aging rockers of Belfast caught the complete opposite end of the spectrum as they say farewell to the Ricky Warwick fronted Thin Lizzy. The boys are back in town again, albeit for one last show.
It must be a dream come true for Trucker Diablo as they provide the support for tonight’s show. Quite obviously citing Thin Lizzy among their collection of golden god influences (of which there are many) the band’s showcase proves that they intend to take the rock ‘n’ roll torch from Thin Lizzy and keep is burning for many years. Hard drinking anthem “Drink Beer, Destroy,” and the sleazy Deep South infused “Voodoo” are amongst the highlights, but so not to alienate the older generation of Lizzy fans, the band also give the trucker treatment to CCR’s “Proud Mary”. For those in the crowd who are old enough to remember Thin Lizzy the first time around, then they needn’t fear the end, as thanks to Trucker Diablo keeping that classic rock sound alive they may have just discovered their new favourite band.
Amidst the applause and cheers for Thin Lizzy as they make their way to the stage, not once is the name Phil Lynott muttered. That is until Ricky Warwick’s cracks open the vocals to “Are You Ready?” and it becomes clear why he was bestowed such an honour in the first place. Warwick performs somewhere between imitation and individuality, respecting the spirit of Lynott enough not to deviate, but adding enough of his own swagger and modern-day rock ‘n’ roll attitude to make the band his own. The crushed velvet vocals of Dancing in the Moonlight the realization sets in that as far as Belfast are concerned, after tonight Thin Lizzy will be no more so thankfully “Chinatown” and “Jailbreak” are all the crowd need to get a become fully live and dangerous themselves.
Ricky Warwick isn’t the band’s only Northern Irish connection as the current guitarist Damon Johnson so dearly reminds the crowd with a fitting tribute to the late Gary Moore. Originally an on-off touring member of the band, Moore’s skill as both a blues guitarist and a rock hero was an essential part of the band’s golden years during the seventies. After a heartfelt introduction by Warwick, Johnson’s guitar solo echoes across the Limelight while the crowd raise a pint or two in Moore’s honour. It isn’t long before the solemn atmosphere is disrupted by the all too familiar build up to “Whiskey in the Jar”, which gives the crowd a true opportunity to pay their respects to Moore in the hard rocking way he would have wanted – certainly the highlight of the show.
Musically, the crowd get their money’s worth. The performance lasts nearly two hours with even the thinnest of the Lizzys, Scott Gorham and Brian Downey eager to play well into the night. “Emerald” and “Suicide” sound like they’ve been plucked straight from the “Live and Dangerous” album but the crowd’s average age catches up with them. Most ticketholders seem more contempt on supping a pint and watching from the back than throwing themselves against the barriers in an attempt to catch the last few beads of sweat from their classic rock heroes. Even the band’s old faithful “The Boys Are Back In Town” as a final encore isn’t enough to get the majority of the crowd movin’ so Warwick uses a trick from the Lynott playbook to keep them engaged by politely coaxing the crowd to clap their hands, a beautiful sight and sound that continues on well after the band have left the stage one final time.
If this truly is the end of days for Thin Lizzy it certainly didn’t feel like it. Ricky Warwick’s “We’ll see you real soon Belfast,” may be one of the all-time biggest rock gig clichéd ways to finish a show, but judging by the band’s reaction to the gig, they’re still having plenty of fun playing in an outfit that kept on despite the death of the late Phil Lynott. Still, despite ending on a high note, it’s clear that Thin Lizzy aren’t so dangerous live as they once were and it certainly seemed that the band are fully aware of this daunting fact.