Friday, November 20, 2009

Music DVD Review: Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready?

The legend of Thin Lizzy is a glorious and ultimately tragic one, perfectly reflecting the life of the band’s founder, Phil Lynott. He was a larger than life character, both literally and symbolically. Towering at well over six feet, Lynott was of mixed-race descent, but considered himself an Irishman. Watching him lead the band on the Are You Ready? DVD, it seems as if Phil Lynott was born to be a rock star.

Many of us Yanks first heard of Thin Lizzy with their anthem “The Boys Are Back In Town” in 1976. It really seemed as if they had the world at their command in the late '70s. In 1978 they released one of the all time great double-live LPs Live And Dangerous, and in 1979 followed it with Black Rose: A Rock Legend.

Running parallel to these achievements, though, were internal struggles that eventually overpowered the unit. Besides Lynott’s uniquely poetic lyrics and singing style, a huge part of the Lizzy sound were the twin guitars of Gary Moore and Scott Gorham. Moore had left and rejoined the band a couple of times by 1981, the year Are You Ready? was filmed.

Guitarist Snowy White takes Moore’s place on Are You Ready? While the music does not suffer at all from this change in personnel, White had little of the charisma of Gary Moore. Still, the main focus of this concert remains Phil Lynott. The 19 songs that make up the nearly two-hour show are excellent and run the gamut of the band’s career.

The concert was filmed in Loreley, Germany and became the first to be shown on the legendary German TV program Rockpalast. A definite highlight is “Cowboy Song”/”The Boys Are Back In Town,” and live versions of “Chinatown,” “Jailbreak,” and “Rosalie,” stand out as well.

The only drawback in the footage is the lighting. In 1981 the kinks in filming a live concert had yet to be worked out. Consequently, there are a few instances where the entire band is washed out by the spotlights. I guess that is the price we pay for seeing such historical material, but it is a shame nonetheless.

There are no bonus features at all contained on Are You Ready? but with a nearly two-hour concert to enjoy, I have no complaint. This is a nice document of a great band, and even without Gary Moore, they put on an remarkable show. Are You Ready? is essential viewing for rock fans of all ages.

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