Late last month, Mercury Studios presented audiences with a unique new presentation for fans of the iconic rock band Thin Lizzy. The hybrid documentary/concert recording, Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878 (yes, that is a mouthful for a recording’s title), was released June 24. One part documentary and one part concert recording, it is a presentation that is certain to engage and entertain most of the band’s audiences. That is due in part to that dual presentation, which will be discussed shortly. Digging a little deeper into the presentation, it sadly is not perfect. Unlike so many recordings released through Mercury Studios, there are no liner notes to offer background on the concert. This shortfall is not enough to doom the recording, but certainly would have enhanced the concert experience. It will be discussed a little later. The dual presentation of the concert and the note in the packaging about the footage works with the general presentation to round out the presentation’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered they make Mercury Studios’ new Thin Lizzy hybrid release such that most of the band’s audiences will find something to appreciate.
Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878, the new hybrid live recording from Mercury Studios, is a unique presentation that the band’s established audiences are sure to appreciate. That is due in no small part to its general presentation. On one side, the recording is a documentary about the band and its still iconic front man Philip Lynott. On the other side is a double-disc presentation of the band’s October 1978 Sydney, Australia concert. The documentary will engage and entertain audiences in large part because it is not just another one of those self-serving pieces narrated by some unseen third party with random interviews, footage, and pictures. Rather, the story in the documentary is told by the former members of Thin Lizzy and by Lynott’s own wife and daughters. The group recalls the band’s history and Lynott’s influence as a performer and songwriter throughout the expansive presentation. Along the way, the documentary’s chapters are separated through presentations of the songs that Lynott wrote and footage of the band performing the songs. The stories behind the songs and the band’s history are so engrossing even for the most casual Thin Lizzy fan. Audiences will be surprised to learn how shy Lynott apparently was off stage despite being such a charismatic front man on stage. This seems to be a recurring theme with front men. Kurt Cobain was always said to be much the same way, as was Jimi Hendrix (who Lynott idolized according to the stories told in the documentary). So many other front men (and women) are and were just as shy. To that end, this revelation is sure to be a starting point for so many discussions on what makes so many vocalists so dramatically different on and off stage.
Getting back on topic, the concert that accompanies the documentary provides its own share of engagement and entertainment. The concert is interesting in part because of its set list. The set list in question is a 13-song presentation that spans 1974-1979, covering half of the band’s 12 albums and two of its live recordings. One of those recordings, Still Dangerous, is an exception, having been released in 2009 years after the band’s breakup. The albums represented in the set list reach back to 1974’s Nightlife and run through 1979’s Black Rose: A Rock Legend. The other of the live recordings represented here is the band’s debut 1978 live recording, Live and Dangerous. So given, it is very specific in the records represented here were really Thin Lizzy at its peak. Following the release of Black Rose: A Rock Legend, the band’s final three albums – Chinatown, Renegade, and Thunder and Lightning – were commercial disappointments. To that end, the albums represented here and the performance overall, showed the band at its best and a great representation of the band’s body of work. What’s more, the set list’s sequencing adds to the presentation. That is because it keeps the concert’s energy flowing in relatively stable fashion, only really slowing in the performance of ‘Still In Love With You.’ To that end, the set list’s sequencing proves itself just as important to its presentation as its songs.
While the set list and its sequencing play directly into the concert’s engagement and entertainment the lack of any background ntoes on the concert detracts somewhat from the overall presentation. This is rare for live recordings from Mercury Studios (formerly Eagle Rock Entertainment). In doing research, it is revealed that the concert presented herein is in fact a re-issue of a previously released concert from another label years ago. What’s more, the concert that was held was a free performance that the band held in front of 100,000 fans in Sydney. In addition, the concert marked guitarist Gary Moore’s first time live with the band in Australia as a permanent member. His stint with the band between 1978 and 1979 would be his third and last with the band. To that end, the concert is as much about Moore’s performance with the band as it is about the band in whole. A note about the quality of the concert footage is included in the packaging, which adds to the understanding and appreciation of the audiovisual presentation, ensuring that much more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment. Keeping all of this in mind, there is plenty of interesting background that could have been written about the band’s 1978 Sydney Harbor concert, which is also briefly shown as part of the recording’s documentary, but sadly that background is nonexistent here. It is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly would have been beneficial to the presentation to have that addition.
Getting back to the positive side of things, audiences will be happy to know that the concert is presented in full both on DVD and CD as part of the presentation. That means that audiences can enjoy the concert herein in their vehicles and at home any time they want. That is a positive in its own right and is a definite positive to the whole. The concert order is slightly different between the DVD and CD presentations, but each song is still present in each platform. That means no matter what, audiences get the entire concert experience here. When this is considered along with the general overall presentation of the recording, the two items collectively give Thin Lizzy’s established audiences plenty to appreciate.
Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878, Mercury Studios’ new retrospective on Thin Lizzy and its equally famed front man Phil Lynott, is a work that will appeal widely among the band’s audiences. That is due in part to its general presentation. The general presentation gives audiences the best of both worlds in one setting with the documentary about the band in the same package as the concert. It would have been easy for Mercury Studios to split the two up and make audiences pay double, but instead the company took the high ground and offered it all in one package. That is commendable to say the least. While the general package is positive, the lack of any background on the concert half of the presentation is disappointing. It would have been nice to have had the important background about the band’s 1978 Sydney Harbor show included in some form, but sadly it was not there. That is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly would have added to the recording’s impact. The dual presentation of the concert as part of the whole rounds out the recording’s most important elements. It allows audiences to enjoy the 1978 Sydney Harbor show anytime and anywhere they want. It puts the finishing touch to the presentation. When it and the other items examined here are considered together they make the recording in whole a piece that most of the band’s audiences will appreciate.
Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878 is available now through Mercury Records. More information on the recording is available along with all of Thin Lizzy’s latest news at:
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