One Night Live In Allentown
CMC Internationl
by Todd K Smith

It was almost too good to be true. A band with the legacy of Thin Lizzy rising like an ancient sphinx from the ashes of immortal decay. Skeptics were amazed when One Night Only appeared on record shelves last year. An all too accomplished affair on CMC International, it boasted the epic Thunder And Lightning-era lineup of Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton led by John Sykes. Ted Nugent’s rhythm section, Tommy Aldridge (drums) and Marco Mendoza (bass) were brought in to round out the sound.

Most surprising about the release was how marvelous Sykes was able to match Lynott’s vocal phrasing. At times even nailing the Irish founder note by note. It has been fifteen years since Philip Lynott left us. His presence and vocal style were what propelled Thin Lizzy to international superstars. It’s therefore no wonder that the fans, especially in Ireland, (his native country) are so fanatic. Every year a fan-generated tribute concert is held in Lynott’s honor. And with each passing year the songs become more classic and the fans more rapid.

“I guess the time was right,” stated Sykes after the band’s triumphant return to Allentown. “So many people wanted a night of Thin Lizzy’s music that we just decided to put it together and go for it.” All but Darren Wharton rejoined the group for a long-over due visit to the US. Playing large clubs and theaters, Sykes and company are doing an admirable job in tribute to not only a legendary band but a remarkable man.

After all it was Lynott who, in 1969 formed the group as a three-piece with Brian Downey (drums) and Eric Bell (guitar). After moving to London they struck a nerve with their single "Whisky In A Jar". By 1974 Lizzy was looking to add fuel to the flames with the double-guitar ignition of new comers Brain Robertson and LA wiz-kid Scott Gorham. Their signature sound was established with their sixth album and breakout hit Jailbreak (a landmark disc which also features "Cowboy Song" and "The Boys Are Back In Town"). Live And Dangerous captured the band at their height and remains today a gem among live recordings. John Sykes (ex-Tygers of Pan Tang) came in after a rotation of Gary Moore and Snowy White primarily to return Lizzy back to a tougher sound.

“I was influenced by a lot of bands from the early 70’s – some blues rock bands, some heavier,” says Sykes. “Once I joined Thin Lizzy I felt that was where I belonged and Phil gave me a lot of freedom. We decided to take the band in a heavier direction and win back fans of the Fighting, Bad Reputation days.” Thunder and Lightning (1983) did just that. When a tour was announced it was greeted with an overwhelming demand for tickets. A live Thin Lizzy 2001 show starts out in almost the same pecking order as the One Night Only CD. First there’s the radio classic "Jailbreak", then "Waiting For An Alibi" and "Don’t Believe A Word". Sykes takes a breather dedicating the night to Lynott then cranks up the Les Paul with a ripping version of "Cold Sweat", a truly classic metal anthem. Gorham, almost 50, stands his ground as the true pioneer of power-riffing. Together with Sykes they give a whole new meaning to twin-guitar leads.

By mid set "Bad Reputation" and "Suicide" are damn near perfect. Then Sykes pulls out all the stops with a heart pounding tear-jerker, "Still In Love With You". Granted we have a lot to be thankful for with this lineup – four guys redefining their music to a dedicated audience of young and old. But to rise to the occasion, as they did in true, professional style was almost mythological.

The sweat of the night knocked the humidity level up several notches when the band lit into "Cowboy Song" followed by a crushing "Boys Are Back In Town". Bob Seger’s "Rosalie" came rushing out of the stacked marshals like a herd of rhinos only to be invigorated by a blistering "Black Rose". Call them what you will – four old band mates trying to cash in on a catalogue of mighty fine music – but at least it’s the right guys doing it the right way. And for those not fortunate enough to have seen Lizzy in their heyday, it’s an inspired night to remember.

In memory of Philip Lynott~

Thin Lizzy: A Rock Legend