Review: Vibe For Philo

The 28th Vibe saw the annual, commemorative Philo-fest return to Vicar Street – a move more than justified by the huge crowd that turned out on what was a very stormy night indeed.

The atmosphere on approaching the venue was palpable; while in the bar before the show, giant video projections of both Thin Lizzy and Lynott solo films, whetted the appetite for what was to come. The merchandise stalls did a steady trade in t-shirts, posters and even belt buckles! Rockers and rock chicks of all ages from across the continent and across the world mingled excitedly, with more than one Black Rose tattoo on display and a few impressive (if incongruous) Mohicans.

MC for the evening was, as ever, the indefatigable Smiley Bolger, long time friend of the much-missed Dublin legend and the instigator of the annual Vibe for Philo. The theme of this year’s Vibe was “Fight or Fall”, a call to arms if ever there was one.

Without fanfare, first act of the night The Lizzy Experience took to the stage for a complete performance of the Fightin’ album. It was a popular choice and tracks like the opening salvo ‘Rosalie’ along with Lizzy live favourites ‘Suicide’ and ‘Wild One’ were performed with an impressive power and glory.

Next up was young Belfast troubadour Conor Scott, introduced by Smiley thusly: “Every year, Philip sends us something special and this year is no exception.” Praise indeed and with just an acoustic guitar and voice, Scott delivered in spades with his own interpretations of a handful of Lizzy tunes the absolute highlight being a terrific crowd-participating version of the Nightlife track ‘She Knows’.

Billed as “Smiley’s surprise guests”, Age, as their name suggests, were the youngest musicians on stage tonight by a long shot. And with the imprimatur of Philomena Lynott herself, who told the crowd they reminded her of seeing an 11-year-old Philo in Mount Argus Church Hall they played a stormer putting in tremendous versions of ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ along with a killer run through AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell'.

Not quite as young, Dublin outfit Sal Vitro were one of the big hits of last year’s Vibe and they received a rapturous welcome for a brilliant set that included a rocking version of the Vagabonds Of The Western World track ‘Song For While I’m Away’ and a soulful slow-burning ‘Dear Miss Lonely Hearts’.

Meanwhile, Pat Coldrick and Dick Farrelly promised “a distortion free zone” for the duration of their performance and offered a sublime acoustic classical take on the gorgeous ‘Sara’ with the crowds joining in on the chorus. They also performed a lovely, classically-inspired ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ (Their set was er, enlivened considerably by the appearance of a beautiful young lady onstage who flashed her “thigh tattoo” of Philo to huge cheers. It was that kind of night!)

Meanwhile, another Vibe favourite The Low Riders (pictured above) delivered a punchy electric mix of a set that included a blistering pair in ‘Angel From The Coast’ and ‘Black Boys On The Corner’. A glowing Philomena Lynott returned to the stage for the now traditional address to the faithful: “Thank you all, thank you all, for coming tonight and to those who were at the cemetery earlier today,” she beamed, while also informing the crowds of the details of the forthcoming limited edition Book Of The Phil Lynott Exhibition.

It was left to UK outfit Dizzy Lizzy (who looked and sounded scarily like the real thing) to bring the night home and they did so with an incendiary set that included favourites such as ‘Killer On The Loose’ and ‘Don’t Believe A Word’, the highlight arguably a stunning, emotion-packed ‘Still In Love With You’.

What a night!


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