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Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready

Label: Eagle
Format: DVD
Released: 2009
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 7.5/10

You can count the number of bassist-fronted outfits throughout hard rock/metal history on one hand, with a few fingers left over. Surviving post-punk New Wave and situated at the dawn of the vaunted New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, yet still a few years prior to their most metal album ("Thunder & Lightning"), the Irish outfit headlined the August 29, 1981 Rockpalast festival (actually a test for German television, cameramen learning on the fly and as such, not really lit for adaptation to the small screen: too many red and green lights), which is now available worldwide.


Interesting timing, as “Renegade” was soon to be on the shelves (represented via ‘Hollywood’ and the Deutsch misspelled ‘Desaster’). This was apparently the later song’s live debut, featuring an alternate set of lyrics from those familiarized when the title changed to ‘Angel Of Death’. The then-recently-issued “Chinatown” material figured heavily in the set, with live staples ‘Genocide’ and ‘Chinatown’ alongside the rarely heard thereafter ‘Sugar Blues’ jam, while the much better ‘Killer On The Loose’ is conspicuously absent!

The poorly received ‘Trouble Boys’ single (don’t know about that cheesy tin sound effect/synth drum?) is included, as is another “odd” choice, a cover of Percy Mayfield’s ‘Memory Pain’, also known as ‘Serve Me Right To Suffer’, when sung by John Lee Hooker. While an archival document, there’s nothing extra (comments, booklet, photos, reviews…nada). In a more innocent visual age (pre-MTV) there are glaring deficiencies (too many solo shots, dark/unlit/blurry moments, song conclusions are ad hoc/almost seem unrehearsed, etc.), but the Brits were doing videos for almost a decade before America launched Music Television, thankfully the Germans took their cue from their "closer" neighbors.

Shot on film, the quality is unsurpassed, although the long shots (alternating with close-ups) might as well be on an unattended soundstage. There’s little evidence this is actually a live show, save the dark, mustached and eager, although invisible crowd, 6000 strong! Wish we could get a good close-up of Lynott-White-Gorham at the front of the stage, but apparently these only were lensed from afar. Thank God Thin Lizzy possess killer songs (on record and/or onstage).

Phil Lynott, decked in leather vest, studded wristband/belt metal finery, makes a trip to the crowd (leaving the stage) during ‘Waiting For An Alibi’. Few frontmen have been able to weave the particulars of any night into stage banter like Lynott. The lyrics to ‘Got To Give It Up’, especially when accompanied with his introductory speech portent the singer/bassist’s untimely demise less than two years later!

The band is enjoying themselves, not playing to the cameras, perhaps the last time captured live. ‘Black Rose’ turns into a twin lead jam (speed those licks up and it’s easy to see where England got the metal vibe), as well as Brian Downey’s drum solo. Returning for multiple encores, five songs total, it’s surprising (given what we NOW know about the German crowds), that it’s 80 minutes into the show before Lizzy lets the Teutonics sing-along to ‘Baby Drives Me Crazy’. Nineteen tracks, most classics, almost two hours in length.

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