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Brian Downey's Alive & Dangerous

Saturday 10th February 2018

Nell's Jazz And Blues, London

Having seen Thin Lizzy many times back in the day, I was a tad apprehensive when I was given a ticket to see Brian Downey’s Alive and Dangerous performing at Nell’s Jazz & Blues bar in West London. This was their second gig at the venue and they were definitely back by popular demand. This year, 2018, marks forty years since the acclaimed ‘Live And Dangerous’ album was released and as many of the songs from the album are included in the set, as many were co-written by Brian Downey, I was well aware that I was surrounded by ardent Lizzy fans and that this was going to be a night to remember.

Recorded over several shows in ‘76/’77, including two at the then Hammersmith Odeon, which coincidentally is less than a mile from Nell’s, ‘Live And Dangerous’ set the music scene alight and became the benchmark on how a live album should be produced. ‘Live And Dangerous’ is exactly that, an album of raw energy, freshness and passion, that gives the listener the impression that they are really are at the gig LIVE.

Even before Brian Downey's Alive And Dangerous came on stage, there was an overwhelming sense of excitement. Nell’s is an intimate venue in West Kensington and wherever you stand you feel that you’re right in the thick of it. As the lights dimmed, the band, Brian Grace, Phil Edgar and Matt Wilson, looking every bit as though they had time travelled from the ‘70’s were joined by the main man, and authentically ‘70’s and one of the geniuses behind many of Thin Lizzy’s hits, Brian Downey.

From the very start of the set any apprehension I had soon evaporated as the band launched into ‘Jailbreak’, and from the moment when the first chord was struck, the crowd became even more enthused, as Matt Wilson's soulful voice brought the lyrics we all know and love to life. The band played with energy and passion and soon had the crowd screaming for more as they piled into classic after classic and yet moved effortlessly into slower tracks including 'Southbound' and 'Dancing In The Moonlight'.

The crowd lapped it up, as the mastermind behind the drums, Brian Downey; counted in the songs keeping the rhythms tight, with Wilson on bass. With his big curly hair and engaging smile Matt Wilson certainly looks the part, but he very much has his own powerful stage persona and completely owns the stage. The energy of the band went from strength to strength, 'Still In Love With You' soared with Grace and Edgar's guitar playing feeding off each other in dual guitar harmonies with high octane solos sweeping every head banger into the sleaze driven funky mood of 'Johnny The Fox'. The band didn't miss a hit, including all those well-known Lizzy songs that even a non-rocker would know, 'The Boys Are Back In Town', 'The Rocker' and 'Don't Believe A Word'.

It was a stunning set and Alive and Dangerous do an exceptional job of keeping Lizzy’s music alive. My apprehension vanquished I’m already looking forward to seeing Brian Downey's Alive And Dangerous again.

Playlist: Jailbreak, Are you Ready, Southbound, Rosalie, Dancing in the Moonlight, Massacre, Still in Love With You, Johnny the Fox meets Jimmy the Weed, Cowboy Song, The Boys are Back in Town, Warriors, Sha La La La, Don’t Believe a Word, Suicide, The Rocker, (*encore) Whisky in the Jar, Bad Reputation, Emerald.

Martin Boydon (Photos courtesy of Laurence Harvey)

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