Review by Damien Doherty for MPM
Are You Ready? The crowd at the Belfast empire musical Music Hall certainly are as the band take the stage.
The legendary Brian Downey is in town and this venue is packed with a captive audience. At 71 years of age the Thin Lizzy founder is showing no signs of slowing down as he and his band Brian Downey’s Alive and Dangerous enthrall the crowd with songs from the beloved Live and Dangerous album and more.
The “King of Swing” pounding the skins with the same passion and skill as back in 1978. It doesn’t get much better than this on a Saturday night folks!
if Brian is the man at the back the man at the front is Matt Wilson, a singer and bass guitarist who is the very embodiment of Phil Lynott’s spirit. Matt has it all; the voice, the look, the swagger, and the connection with the audience that Phil had.
Flanking him are twin lead guitarists Michal Kulbaka and Joe Merriman, extremely talented musicians reminiscent of Robbo and Scott both in their playing styles and in their on-stage camaraderie.
Up next are audience favourites Jailbreak and Emerald, followed by the Bob Seger penned Rosalie which as Matt correctly points out was adapted and improved by Lizzy! Hands clapping in the air as Dancing In The Moonlight’s distinctive opening riff plays, then onto Massacre raising the energy in the house before the tempo slows and the twin lead intro of Still In Love With You begins.
And boy do the crowd love it, there’s tears in the eyes of the fella beside me. Furious drumming by Brian on Sha-La-La, then we are onto Cowboy Song and everyone does the coyote call – Oww, Oww, Oww before as is tradition we segue straight into The Boys Are Back In Town whipping the crowd to a frenzy. And the boy is back in town tonight with Matt reminiscing about playing the Empire with his previous band, Co. Down based The Dead Presidents.
Warriors leads into Don’t Believe A Word and heads are rocking and hips are shaking while Matt pouts and struts the stage as Michal peels off the solo. Wild One is a beautiful example of the Lizzy twin lead sound and there’s a touching moment during the solo as Kulbaka and Merriman fist bump while hammering on the closing phrases.
A recent addition to the set is Waiting For An Alibi, the distinctive bass and drum intro into the twin guitar assault and the entire audience is singing, Merriman kicks off the solo before being joined by Kulbaka for the frantic pentatonic run to the climax.
Then Brian counts in the epic Roisin Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend, and we are treated to a masterpiece of Lynott at his pinnacle of his career. Michal Kulbaka rips the rapid final solo effortlessly, Gary Moore would be proud! And no show would be complete without Whiskey In The Jar which has the whole place moving in unison.
It’s a short break before the encore. Brian’s back in his seat and the swing beat of Suicide commences, solos are traded between Joe and Michal, “Don’t that make you wanna boogie” indeed! Closing the night is John Sykes era song Cold Sweat, and we are definitely all perspiring, then it’s all over, goodnight, until the next time! Brian Downey everybody!! – He makes your toes tap, he makes your hands clap, and hopefully for many years to come.
Photography by MPM