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Pippa Lang: Photos by Judith Fisher
27th July 2011

thin lizzy

There'll always be divided opinions about the Lizzy reformation, simply because there are two generations of Lizzy, and thus two generations of Lizzy fans.

For the over-40s, it'll take time to get used to the Lynott-less line-up. For the under-30s, well, this is a band paying tribute to a man they mainly have no first-hand experience of, but whose massive influence they're beginning to understand. For those who knew and felt Phil's presence personally, time and tears will tell. Twenty-five years later, he is still overwhelmingly here.

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For Scott Gorham, Brian Downey and Darren Wharton, playing without Phil for the first time must've been unbearable, but the reasons for this 'reunion' are simple and honourable. Phil's memory may always live with those who saw him, but for today's rock fans, the names 'Thin Lizzy' and 'Phil Lynott' were unfamiliar until recently, when Scott took it upon himself to throw them into the spotlight again. Righteous indignation from older fans, he said, actually comforted him, but the importance of demonstrating Lizzy and Lynott's vast influence took precedent.

thin lizzy

This was the first time I'd seen Lizzy since their last tour, and I wasn't at all sure I wanted to be here. But if Scott, Brian and Darren had already taken the brave step to revisit the past without Lizzy's major player, hey - I owed it to them. After today, it can only get easier.

I've known Ricky Warwick, too, from his days with The Almighty, so it wasn't as if some stranger was standing onstage pretending to be Phil. Ricky has his own pedigree, Irish to boot, and – shockingly – his voice has the same timbre as Phil's. Closing my eyes throughout 'Waiting For An Alibi' and 'Jailbreak' may not have been wise, but the big black shadow striding purposefully across the stage was somehow comforting!

thin lizzy

By 'Dancin' In The Moonlight', nostalgia was replaced by a jolt of astonishment at the sight of Mike Monroe strolling onstage with a sax slung round his neck. The fact that no-one could really hear him was obviously a source of frustration to Mike, and I felt sorry for him that this may not have been the triumphant contribution it could've been.

'Emerald', 'Whisky In The Jar' and then 'Cowboy Song' and, for me, the loneliest words Phil ever spoke in song: "I am just a cowboy...". Ricky pulled it off with respect and tenderness, and I could hear a semblance of understanding of the sensitive position he's in. Phil would surely have nodded his approval.

thin lizzy

And then it was over in a blur, and thank God they didn't play 'The Sun Goes Down', for Phil's favourite song would surely have buckled under the weight of the years...

The best thing about this reunion is that the two generations can, hopefully, compromise: the older, whilst mourning Phil, can now impart their experiences of him to younger fans, who now have a frame of reference – Thin Lizzy 2011 - within which to place the old 'war stories'. Phil's legend was starting to disappear into dog-eared tales of yesterday's rockers, but now his presence can become more tangible.

And for us oldies, he is now even more – overwhelmingly - here. It's weird but it's okay, and strangely comforting.

Pippa Lang

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