Brian Downey’s ALIVE AND DANGEROUS — London Show Report

This weekend, the thrilling band of legendary THIN LIZZY drummer Brian Downey: ALIVE AND DANGEROUS — performed two rare London shows at the wonderful Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club.

Downey’s outfit features Brian Grace (best known as the guitarist for Commitments’ Andrew Strong) and former Low Rider members Matt Wilson (lead vocals, bass) and Phil Edgar (lead guitar)

Back in 1969 Dublin drummer Downey formed the germinal THIN LIZZY with Belfast guitarist Eric Bell and “Orphanage” bandmate (also from Dublin) Phil Lynott on vocals. Later, organist Eric Wrixon, a colleague of Bell, joined the incarnation.

By June 1978 their songcraft and stage show had been perfected, and the band had stabilized around Phil Lynott, Brian Downey and guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson…

For almost fifteen years, between 1969 and 1983, the band gained recognition around the world and became the greatest inspirational success story in hard rock history.

The original trio recruited eleven musicians during a packed career — with studio and touring members including personalities such as Gary Moore, Scott Gorham, Snowy White, John Sykes, Brian Robertson and, yes, even Midge Ure. The project also generated Black Star Riders, as well as countless tribute acts.

It’s popularly agreed that the band’s double “Live and Dangerous” album  is their finest moment. By June 1978 their songcraft and stage show had been perfected, and the band stabilized around Phil Lynott, Brian Downey and guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson.

The band also had a successful seventh album [Johnny the Fox] to its credit, as well as other major achievements — including a brace of hit singles from the album “Jailbreak” (1976) and were busy touring new recording “Bad Reputation.”

The goal of Brian Downey’s ALIVE AND DANGEROUS is to recreate the vital energy and dramatic spectacle presented to  those crowds in London, Philadelphia and Toronto, during 1976-77.

Photo Credit: Andras Paul

So, this Friday, the band bounced onto the West London stage with a spring in their step after an exciting & effective performance by support band Federal Charm.

Belfast blues & soul vocalist Matt Wilson certainly looked the part with frizzed hair and silky shirt. Phil Edgar appeared slim and swarthy, and there was something curiously Steve Cropperish about guitarist Grace.

Downey himself looked comfortable, of course, behind a gigantic kit at the back of the stage.

The rumbling riff, along with Brian’s chattering beat, on show opener “Jailbreak” in the sold-out 400 capacity venue was undeniably compelling, and this “Southern Rocker...” was always the perfect way to start a Lizzy show.

Are You Ready” was swapped with “Emerald”  [that came towards the end] and, soon after, we were treated to the delicious beauty of “Southbound” with its swinging vibrations and unashamedly suggestive rhythms.

Photo Credit: Andras Paul

Rosalie” was a classic concoction of sweaty, haunting bass-lines, and persistent riffs laid down by Grace plus supremely smooth soulful vocalizations from Matt.

He compared well to Lynott in quality, power and range —  yet didn’t try to trump his predecessor — he found his own sense of style and clarity.

The groovy thump of “Dancing In The Moonlight” had asphalt ridges of bass, plus singing guitars and a folkloric quality. This song prowled like a mystery-cat [the original had Henry Mancini written all over it…]

And the song incorporated plenty of shamanistic drum thwackery from Downey that took the audience into states of consciousness they didn’t know they had! Plus, there was also enough guitar-champagne fizzery to drown Marilyn Monroe in her bath.

The first slow blues-burner of the night was “Still in Love With You” with its potent, and smoulderingly passionate smoky atmosphere.

“Still in Love With You” was a potent, and smoulderingly passionate rendition… Image: @neilmach 2017 ©

This also had twinkling twin guitars and enough static electricity to light up a Bunsen. The song was filled with repressed sensuality and took us neatly, albeit breathlessly, into “Johnny the Fox.”

With lots of rich rhythms from Brian himself, as well as layer-upon-layer of texture from other members, this was a concert to remember.

This experience was as hot and immodest as cruising the M7 Galtee-bound in a seagull-winged DMC-12 on a summers-day. Bewitching!

2018 will mark the 40th Anniversary of Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous so expect lots more shows next year…


Words : @neilmach 2017 ©

Main image, photo credit: Andras Paul


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