Archive for the ‘Thin Lizzy’ Category

Thin Lizzy live 1972 – 1975

Thin Lizzy live 1972 – 1975
thinlizzy-whiskeyApologies if you have read some of this story before. I’ll be spending the next few days with my memories of Thin Lizzy in concert, and I though I’d start by recalling when I first saw the band in 1972, which I have written about before, as part of a post about a concert by the recent Thin Lizzy line-up.
Anyway back to 1972. It’s a Friday night and I’m in the upstairs bar of Sunderland Locarno (“the Mecca”). There’s a tall black guy standing next to me. He’s chatting away to everyone in a strong but soft Irish accent. He seems a friendly guy; looks like he could be in a band. An hour or so later the night’s group take to the stage. They are called Thin Lizzy, and the guy from the bar is the front man. None of us have heard of them; someone tells me that John Peel plays them quite a bit and that they have an album out called “Shades of a Blue Orphanage”. They play pretty well; the front man has great presence, the guitarist is pretty good and the drummer’s impressive. I find out later that the tall guy is called Phil Lynott and the other members are Eric Bell on guitar, and Brian Downey on drums. Roll on a year. I’m watching Top of the Pops and Thin Lizzy are on my TV playing an Irish-folk sounding tune “Whiskey in the Jar” which has a great guitar riff. Next day I go out and buy the record. My journey with Lizzy was beginning. Over the next few years Thin Lizzy play Sunderland a few more times, hitting the stages of the Mecca and the Rink. They appear down the bill at the Reading festival a couple of times. Each time I see them they get stronger and tighter, but they also seem to miss out on that “big break”. I must have seen them 5 or 6 times during the period 1972 to 1975.
ThinLizzyFightingThe next time I saw Thin Lizzy will have been on 22nd June 1973, again at Sunderland Mecca. By now they had released “Vagabonds of the Western World” which featured live favourite “The Rocker”. Support came from local band Beckett: “Thin Lizzy and their cover of Rosalie. Back in early ‘73, my band Beckett…..most of us hadn’t heard any Bob Seger, so his album [Back in ’72] was played incessantly…..On June 22nd..we were booked to play our local Mecca in support of Thin Lizzy who were riding the success of Whiskey in the Jar. While our crew were loading our gear into the lift under the venue, Lizzy turned up and we all stood around in the sunshine chewing the fat … while playing in the background was our tape of Back in ‘72. Phil was much taken with Rosalie and they decided, there-and-then, that they would cover it in their live show. Bob Seger and Thin Lizzy: two of the most heart-poundingly exciting live rock shows I ever saw.” (Keith Fisher of Beckett, ).
I next saw Lizzy at the 1974 Reading Festival, half-way down a varied bill which featured Georgie Fame, Procol Harum, Trapeze, and Greenslade, and was headlined by Traffic. By 1974 the classic twin guitar line-up was in place: Philip Lynott, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, and Brian Robertson, and they had released “Nightlife”. The classic band was now together and was starting to form that classic sound. The attitude and presence were there; some of the songs and the success took a little longer. I saw them back at the Mecca on 25th October 1974 with support from Quicksand.
ThinLizzy76In 1975 Thin Lizzy released “Fighting” which features “Rosalie”, as mentioned above. I was back at Reading, and so were Lizzy, this time a little further up a bill headlined by Yes, Wishbone Ash, and Hawkwind. They played: Fighting My Way Back; It’s Only Money; King’s Vengeance; Still in Love With You; Showdown; Suicide; Rosalie; The Rocker; Sha La La. Encore: Baby Drives Me Crazy.
I may have seen them once or twice more. I have vague memories of a gig at Sunderland Top Rank (the “Rink”), perhaps with Status Quo. Or maybe I remember Quo playing the Mecca, while Thin Lizzy played the Rink on the same night (or vice versa)…who knows….the gigs all sort of blend into one now. I know that Lizzy toured in ’73 supporting Slade and played Sunderland Rink, but I missed that gig as I was seeing Santana at the City Hall on the same night. What I also know is that Lizzy were gigging constantly throughout those years and played in the North East many times. There were a great live band and I guess I took them for granted. I was lucky enough to be able to see the band honing their craft and developing into the class rock act that we all know and love.
In 1976 everything changed for Thin Lizzy. They released “Jailbreak”, the single “Boys are back in town” was played everywhere and massive success followed. For some crazy reason I missed them on the Jailbreak tour (I still regret such things today), and remember kicking myself for doing so at the time. I made up for it by catching most of their tours from then on, which I’ll write about this week, starting tomorrow with Autumn 1976 and the “Johnny the Fox” tour.
Many thanks to Mitch for his action shot of Phil Lynott which he took at Newcastle City Hall on 1st Nov 1976 (I’ll write about that gig tomorrow) and to the great site which catalogues Lizzy tour dates.

Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977

Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
reading1977prog1Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
reading1977Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
reading75flyerThe Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
readingprog75Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
reading75Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.

The Reading Festival 23rd – 25th August 1974

The Reading Festival 23rd – 25th August 1974
readingprog74This was my third visit to the Reading Festival; I felt I was a seasoned festival goer 🙂 . By now a large crew of local people were going to the festival, so there were lots of mates there, and we spent much of the weekend in the pubs in town, and down near the Caversham Bridge; particularly The Griffin. We would nip back to the festival site to catch the bands we wanted to see. The line-up in 1974 wasn’t particularly strong in comparison to the previous couple of years, and quite a few bands who had been advertised didn’t show (notably Eric Burdon, Ronnie Lane and Blodwyn Pig, all of whom I was looking forward to seeing). The Friday line-up was : Nutz, Johnny Mars, Hustler, Beckett, Camel, 10c, Fumble, Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
The first night of the festival saw the triumphant headlining return of the Alex Harvey band, who lived up to their name and were truly sensational. SAHB had appeared low down on the bill the previous year; there will have been many in the crowd who saw that performance, and knew how good they were. Johnny Mars and his Sunflower Blues Band gigged a lot in the early 70s; they played traditional blues; I remember seeing them at Sunderland Poly a few times; pretty good too. Fumble were a rock’roll revival band who also gigged a lot. Beckett were local North East heroes, featuring singer Terry Slesser. The SAHB setlist was something like this: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Can’t Get Enough; Give My Regards To Sergeant Fury; The Return of Vambo; The Man in the Jar; Money Honey; The Impossible Dream; Schools Out; Framed.
readingtrafficSaturday line-up: Jack the Lad, G T Moore and the Reggae Guitars, Trapeze, Sutherland Brothers, JSD Band, Procol Harum, Thin Lizzy, Long John Baldry, Heavy Metal Kids, Greenslade, Georgie Fame, Traffic.
Two bands stick in my mind from Saturday: Thin Lizzy who were excellent, and about to break through a year or so later, and Traffic. This was the classic Lizzy line-up featuring front-man Phil Lynott, the twin guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, and Brian Downey on drums; at the time of the Nightlife album; they were at the top of their game. Traffic were excellent. They had just released their album When the Eagle Flies, and their set at Reading featured a few songs from that album, plus some old classics. The line-up at the time was Steve Winwood (guitar, vocals, keyboards); Chris Wood (flute, sax); Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals); Rosko Gee (bass); Rebop (percussion). Stand-outs were Steve singing John Barleycorn, simple and beautiful with acoustic guitar, and Rebop’s congas and percussion throughout. I found a published setlist for Traffic, which shows they played: Empty Pages; Graveyard People; Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring; John Barleycorn; 40,000 Headmen; Love; When the Eagle Flies; Walking in the Wind; Dream Gerrard. I also have it in my mind that they performed Feelin’ Alright, but maybe that’s my memory playing tricks again. Also worthy of mention are Procol Harum (great version of Whiter Shade of Pale and a big success during the late afternoon), the late great Long John Baldry (excellent voice and a hero of mine), Heavy Metal Kids (the late Gary Holton as crazy and manic as ever), and Georgie Fame who seemed a bit out of place as part of the Saturday night line-up, but carried on the jazz and R’n’B tradition of the festival and went down pretty well.
readingtixSunday Line-up: Gary Farr, Chilli Willi and the Red Hod Peppers, Esparanto, Strider, Barclay James Harvest, Chapman & Whitney Streetwalkers, Kevin Coyne, George Melly, Winkies, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Harvey Andrews, Focus.
My main memories of the final day are of Steve Harley. Cockney Rebel had split a few months before the festival, and this one of Steve’s first appearances with his new band. They stole the show; appearing just as it was getting dark; the audience was with Steve from the start, and the performance was a triumph. Tumbling Down closed the set with a mass crowd singalong of “Oh dear, look what they’ve done to the blues, blues, blues”. It was clear that Steve was back, as cocky as ever; 1975 would bring him massive success with Make Me Smile.
I also remember watching Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade), George Melly (a return after his success the previous year) and Focus who closed the show, and were also great, but seemed a little of anti-climax after Steve Harley’s performance.
DJs for the weekend were John Peel and Jerry Floyd. Oh and there were lots of cheers of “Wally”, “John Peels a c**t” (not sure how that one started), and a revolt at the prices of food in the arena, which resulted in a fish and chip van being trashed. Crazy, happy days.

Gary Moore concerts 1971 to 2007

Gary Moore concerts 1971 to 2007
gary1I first saw Gary Moore live when he was in the Irish rock band Skid Row, at a gig at Sunderland Locarno in early 1971. I remember standing on the dance floor, right in front of the stage, close up to Gary. He was a young man of 18 then, and his guitar work was simply astounding. His technique mixed the feel and tone of great blues guitarists like Peter Green and B B King, with the flash and speed of Alvin Lee. You could also hear the jazz influences in Moore’s playing and in the music of Skid Row. There was another reason why Skid Row stood out from the crowd, and deserved much more success than they ever got, and that was manic bass player Brush Shiels. Brush has a mop of afro hair (guess that’s where his name came from), played a see-through perspex bass, and ran around the stage like the proverbial whirling dervish.
gary2I saw the band once more, after Gary had left to be replaced by Paul “Tonka” Chapman, when they supported Curved Air at a gig at Newcastle City Hall. I saw Gary many more times over the years: in his own Gary Moore Band as a support act at the City Hall (I think it could have been on a bill with Stone the Crows), with Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum II at Reading Festival in 1976 and at a gig at Newcastle Poly, and with Thin Lizzy once or twice. I also saw him supporting Whitesnake on tour (his band was called G Force at that point) in 1980, and solo at Donington Monsters of Rock 1984.
gary3The last time I saw Gary Moore was at a concert at Newcastle City Hall in . I went with a group of mates and we had seats right down close to the front of the stage. As usual Gary was on great form, squeezing some exquisite blues from his trademark Gibson Les Paul. I even managed to catch his plectrum :). From the 2007 programme: “Gary Moore is ackowledged as one of the finest musicians that the British Isles has ever produced. In a career that dates back to the 60s, there are few musical genres that he has not turned his adroit musical hand to, and has graced the line-ups of several notable rock bands, Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II and Skid Row to name but three.”
gary4Typical Gary Moore set list from 2007: Oh, Pretty Woman; Hard Times; Trouble at Home; Since I Met You Baby; Midnight Blues; Eyesight to the Blind; Thirty Days; All Your Love (I Miss Loving); I Had a Dream; Too Tired; So Far Away; Empty Rooms; Don’t Believe a Word; Still Got the Blues; Walking by Myself. Encore: The Blues Is Alright; Parisienne Walkways.
Gary sadly passed away as the result of a heart attack, during the early hours of February 6, 2011. At the time, he was on holiday in Spain. He was 58. Another great talent sadly gone. Bob Geldof commented, at the time of his passing, that Moore was “without question one of the great Irish bluesmen. His playing was exceptional and beautiful. We won’t see his like again.” Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham added that “playing with Gary during the Black Rose era was a great experience. He was a great player and a great guy.”

Deep Purple Newcastle Arena 2007

Deep Purple Newcastle Arena 2007
Support from Styx and Thin Lizzy
A group of us went to this gig, attracted as much by the strong support acts on offer, as by the prospect of seeing Deep Purple. My friends are all big Styx fans, and couldn’t miss the opportunity of seeing them. The gig started early at around 7pm, to allow each vabd to perform a reasonable length set. First up was Thin Lizzy, this line-up fronted by John Sykes and Scott Gorham. They delivered a set of Lizzy classics, proving that there is life for the band without front man Phil Lynott. In fact, I was surprised just how good they were, and it was great to hear classics such as The Boys Are Back In Town, and Jailbreak again. Styx were next up, also missing front man Dennis DeYoung. Styx gave headliners Purple a run for their money, and delivered a set of classics which went down well with the assembled crowd. Although Purple’s latest album was Rapture of the Deep, this show also featured the band playing their classic album Machine Head in full. A good evening in the company of friends, and three classic rock bands. Setlist: Fireball; Things I Never Said; Into the Fire; Strange Kind of Woman; Rapture of the Deep; The Well-Dressed Guitar; Highway Star; Maybe I’m a Leo; Pictures of Home; Never Before; When a Blind Man Cries; Smoke on the Water; Lazy; Space Truckin’. Encore: Hush; Black Night.

Guns N Roses and Thin Lizzy Newcastle Arena 23 May 2012

Guns N Roses and Thin Lizzy Newcastle Arena 23 May 2012
My friend John and I saw a marathon, but amazing, gig by Guns N Roses in Newcastle last night. They came on stage around 10.40pm and played until 1.40am. John has been over from his home in the USA, and suggested we go to the gig. We got there quite early, bought our programmes, and John bought a poster, and we took our seats to see support act Thin Lizzy. They came on stage around 8.30pm and delivered a set of all the classic songs, finishing with The Boys are back in Town. The latest line up of Thin Lizzy is pretty true to the original, however the sound wasn’t wonderful in the big area. The venue was around three quarters full, and Lizzy got a warm reception, although everyone was there to see the headline band. We had read report of Axl and crew coming on stage very late on this tour, and Ticketmaster had emailed me to warn that they would be on stage at 10pm. On the night Guns N Roses actually took to the stage at 10.40pm, around an hour after Lizzy had finished their set. This wasn;t as long a wait as we had feared, and the crowd didn’t seem too restless. The band literally exploded onto the stage, with lots of flares and explosions, which continued at various points throughout the gig. Their performance was much much better than I had expected. Axl has assembled a band of excellent musicians, all of whom showed just how good they are. Although the set came in at around 3 hours, it didn’t drag at all. Its a long time since I’ve seen a band play this long, yet I didn’t get bored. The timings were perfect. A great mix of classic GNR tracks, well chosen covers and impressive solos that were just the right length made this a class rock show. And Axl still has all the energy that he did when he was a much younger guy; his voice is also as strong as it ever was. All in all John and I both agreed that this was a pretty neat gig. Impressive stuff, even if I am still tired today. Setlist: Chinese Democracy; Welcome to the Jungle; It’s So Easy; Mr. Brownstone; Sorry; Rocket Queen; Estranged; Better; Richard Fortus Guitar Solo; Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings); This I Love; Motivation (Tommy Stinson lead vocals); Instrumental Jam ; Dizzy Reed Piano Solo (based on The Who’s Baba O’ Riley); Street of Dreams; You Could Be Mine; DJ Ashba Guitar Solo; Sweet Child O’ Mine; Instrumental Jam; Another Brick In The Wall (Pink Floyd); Axl Rose Piano Solo; November Rain; Glad to Be Here (Bumblefoot lead vocals); Don’t Cry; Civil War; Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan); Nightrain.
Encore: Madagascar; Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC); Patience; Paradise City