It’s not often you get the chance to celebrate the best of iconic ’80s rock music in quite the explicit style Bristolians are celebrating tonight.
Donning snug trousers, volumising your hair and listening to The Darkness in a semi-closet style is about as close as most of us get.
But even though a Thin Lizzy gig in 2005 is never going to be as authentically retro without virtuoso Phil Lynott to head up the fun, it’s still good enough to bring faithful ponytail-sporters well out of the woodwork.
So support act Winterville, with their babyfaces and fresher take on unadulterated rock, have a lot to do to keep the audience’s attention. Thankfully an excellent cover of Crosby Stills Nash and Young‘s Ohio which shows off the talents they undoubtedly posses, keeps everybody keen and interested.
That is, until original Thin Lizzy members Scott Gorham (lead vocals) and John Sykes (lead guitar) walk onto the stage with all the confidence of their tighter-than-life trousers, and then spirits soar. In 1999 the band reformed with drummer Michael Lee and bassist Marco Mendoza for a US tour to promote their greatest hits album, and now five years on again, the line up remains the same for The Boys Are Back In Town 2005 tour.
And almost 25 years on from when they first formed Thin Lizzy prove they still have the skill to knock out a crowd. As soon as 1980’s China Town’s brooding bass lines give way to Sykes’s and Gorham’s first dual guitar onslaught of the evening, people are hooked. Satisfied cigar smoke fills the air, as do hundreds of hands clutching hundreds of imaginary six-strings.
Tonight Thin Lizzy may be less riotous than their former salad day selves, but they certainly do not suffer for being that little more mature than most of the bands that grace the Academy stage.
Sykes dazzles with a good-looking grace and his stunningly fervent guitar solos, whose execution has surely bettered with time, never bore. The crowd guiltily relish every bend in the same way they relish the announcement of each coming track which drips with 80s vernacular. Killer on the Loose, Suicide, Black Rose. Not for 20 years have song titles been so gleefully and innocently evil. Mendoza, dark and moody keeps the runaway guitars and almost pop-happy vocals balanced with a much darker sound from his side.
Thin Lizzy know they are on to a good thing, and two encores prove they are not ashamed to roll out the greats of yesteryear for cheap thrills. Perhaps the only disappointment is that The Boys Are Back In Town surely the cheapest thrill of the night is raced through, perhaps in an attempt to give it a new energy? Perhaps because they know hardened fans may scoff at its brazen commercial shell.
And no Whiskey In The Jar. But after ripping up Irish folk in The Emerald City, there is no need to reaffirm the reason why they got here in the first place. Perhaps they are saving it for the next tour, of which there most probably will be.