Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Boys back in town for Phil Lynott 25th anniversary

Eric Bell, founder member of Thin Lizzy, joins young guitarists (left to right) Shane O'Raw, Paddy Lennon, Niall Henney, Matthew Brady and Neil McNamara at the beginning of a flash mob in Temple Bar, Dublin

The boys -- and girls -- were back in town last night to pay tribute to Phil Lynott, who died 25 years ago.

Over 600 fans flew in from 14 different countries to join the Irish who have never forgotten the rocker. As well as dancing in the moonlight, there was whiskey in the jar and, of course, plenty of rock and roll at the sell-out 'Vibe for Philo' at Vicar Street, Dublin.

As one of the organisers, Hugo McGuinness, put it, "it's more than just a gig" -- it's part convention, part concert and part wake.

The Crumlin rocker inspired his best friend Smiley Bolger to organise the annual event, urging him to "do a vibe for me some time" a few years before his untimely death, aged just 36.

Last night's gig was themed 'Black Rose' in tribute to Thin Lizzy's famed 1979 album and tickets featured previously unseen artwork from artist Jim Fitzpatrick, executed for the album but never used.

One of the highlights of the night were performances by two former Thin Lizzy band members, Eric Bell and Brian Robertson, who played separate sets.

And Glen Hansard surprised the crowd by throwing off his folk singer image and transforming himself into a Live and Dangerous hardcore rocker.

But the tentacles of the Phil Lynott memorial spread even further last night. In Belfast, any musician playing live opened with one of his songs. Rock Radio in Scotland had a Thin Lizzy evening and Dublin station Nova played the entire 'Live and Dangerous' album.

Earlier, Bell joined hundreds of Philo fans for an impromptu gig at the Button Factory music venue in Temple Bar at 2pm.

Shane O'Raw (16), from Naas, and Neil MacNamara (25), from Clontarf, came along and said Thin Lizzy were the reason they picked up guitars for the first time.

"They have some great rocking tunes and some tasty guitar licks," Shane said.

"The band really had that lasting feel," added Neil.

Brothers Andy and Steffen Kuhne travelled all the way from Germany to pay their respects to "the best songwriter in the world" and Satoshi Shibata came from Tokyo to perform at the tribute gig in Whelan's.

Bell thinks the reason Dubliners love Phil Lynott so much is because he was a local boy who 'done good'.

"There were thousands of famous bands in the 70s but Thin Lizzy have stood the test of time."

Last night, Philomena Lynott - who recently celebrated her 80th birthday - said thousands of people had visited her son's grave in recent days leaving their messages on scraps of paper which she collects and brings home.

"I'm 80 now so I'll be going up there soon to join him and give him a punch for breaking all of our hearts," she joked.

Mrs Lynott also said she's hoping to open a museum for her son that would include all of his memorbilia, including his gold and double albums and other cherished momentos.

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