Thin Lizzy, despite only having one album go gold in the United States through the power of two enduring radio hits, continue to be a tremendously influential act decades after they disbanded and their seminal frontman, Phil Lynott, passed away. There’s been some controversy over the band reforming under the Thin Lizzy name in recent years and with a new one boasting original material in Black Star Riders. But none of that mattered this evening as members of Outsideinside, Cruces, Argus, Stone Cold Killer, and others gathered to pay tribute to a record that had served as quite a calling card for an act whose legend grows with each passing year and generation.
Local axe thrower and curator of the event, Dave Wheeler, has been channeling the twin leads that made Thin Lizzy famous–and left a mark on everyone from more famous acts such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to death metal titans Carcass–for a number of years now. Be it in Outsideinside, his former group Carousel or his newer project Limousine Beach, Wheeler is a hometown guitar hero, and did he ever shine on renditions of “Wild One” and “Emerald” along with Stone Cold Killer’s Curt Botzer and Outsideinside’s James Hart.
The Rex Theater show played out in two acts. The first was comprised of a smattering of Thin Lizzy gems from throughout the catalogue. Sultry Sass Jourdan soundalike Naomi Curtis of Cruces belted it out on “Rosalie” and “The Rocker” while ironclad blacksmith Brian Balich of Argus took a stab at “Southbound.” Acoustic versions of a couple of classics, including a heartfelt storyteller’s take on “Whiskey In The Jar” also took place along with swaggering renditions of “Are You Ready” and “Waiting For An Alibi.” “Wild One,” a stirring ballad, was also a highlight. WDVE personality Randy Baumann even sat in to tinkle the keys for a song.
After an intermission, the album Jailbreak was laid out and revisited as if it were an old book of photographs. From the opening title track to the epic finisher “Emerald” and a raucous, participatory performance of a certain hit we’ve all heard on radio, television, and film countless times in between, there was a reverence and love on display for the material that can’t be taught to any aspiring musician.
Thin Lizzy can never exist again as we knew them best, but for those of us who are too young to remember Lynott and crew in their prime, nights like the Legendary Album Series blur the line that separates a listening party from a typical tribute band’s set, uniting player and patron alike in the recognition that we are all fans in the end.