The Open Air 1975 Festival, Radstadionm, Ludwigshafen, Germany – September 6, 1975
(60:25) Fighting, It’s Only Money, King’s Vengeance, Still In Love With You, Showdown, Suicide, Rosalie, The Rocker, Sha La La, Baby Drives Me Crazy, Me And The Boys
I saw this title pop up on a list of on sale titles and could not resist, not a lot of recordings from this year in Thin Lizzy’s history, certainly the best is the official UK Tour 1976 (Major League Productions MLP16CD). This recording took place while the band is touring to support the Fighting LP released in September 1975, the first album to really embrace a consistently heavier sound. Thin Lizzy was on a festival which featured a bill headlined by Alice Cooper with other Rock luminaries Status Quo, Leslie West, and Supertramp. Another up and coming Hard Rock band was also on the bill, UFO touring in support of their excellent Force It LP, the same taper who recorded Thin Lizzy’s set also recorded UFO, this recording and subsequent release by the Zeus label is like a companion piece, Rough And Raw (Zeus Z 2021001), a review of that title is on the CMR site.
The sound of this recording is a near excellent audience source, well balanced, clear and very detailed with a bit of distortion at times. Being an open air festival the recording is a bit thin but sounds like it was recorded close to the stage as the music is very in your face. It does lend itself to loud volumes as it sounds really good cranked. After a quick introduction, “Give it for Thin Lizzy” there is a pregnant pause as the band couldn’t get to the stage, they eventually make it and after a second intro they quickly soundcheck and begin the concert with the title track off their yet to be released album, Fighting. Straight forward version, great simple riff that has a great melodic Scott Gorham solo, the song is linked directly with It’s Only Money for a hard hitting opening salvo. King’s Vengeance features the trademark Thin Lizzy twin guitar playing that was a hallmark of the classic Lynott, Downey, Robertson, and Gorham line up. Three songs in and you get the picture, the band are hitting the audience with a full frontal assault, when they break into the incredible Still In Love With You no momentum is lost. The heart wrenching blues ballad with Phil’s incredible vocal delivery is excellent, Brian’s guitar solo is incredible, it’s like the musical alternate to the vocals. Stunning version which garners a huge round of applause from the audience, and myself as well!
Showdown is a bit lighter after the slow Blues, the subject matter is just as dark, typical Phil lyric about life on the street and great almost funky bass line. This song is quite smooth but the tempo builds and the song ends with an aggressive Robbo solo that knocks your socks off. Phil tells the audience they are going to start “shaking their bones” and they get into Suicide, straight forward Hard Rock that delivers in spades, driving rhythm, great solos, great riff, and vocals. Being in the Mid West area of the US, I was familiar with the Bob Seger song Rosalie. Bob Seger was an FM Rock radio standard and is still a legend in these parts. Phil had been influenced by his early tours of the US and the bands working the touring circuits, Seger being one of them. While a bit different from Phil’s originals, I count myself in the group that likes the Lizzy version, the song blends into The Rocker. Certainly one of the early Lizzy songs that would be a regular part of the set throughout their career and for good reason, it’s an excellent song.
The Brian Downey track Sha La La follows, Downey gets his drum solo and gives us a chance to hear him, thunderous double bass drum attack which is quite aggressive, the band comes back and does a quick jam. The crowd is into it and clap along but certainly can’t keep up, great solo, that is how it’s done. Phil announces Baby Drives Me Crazy as being their last song and leads the audience in a call and response of “Baby…Baby” which is effective, they are certainly very into the performance. Phil also introduces the band and it’s Scott Gorham that gets a huge ovation, after more sing along to “Baby” the band finish to a massive ovation. The announcer brings the band back with a “Give me a T…give me a H…” etc… which the audience enthusiastically repeats. The band get right into it with a blistering version of Me And The Boys, a Hard rock version of a classic Rock and Roll song in its purest form that easily sounds like it could have been written twenty years prior. The song goes down incredibly with the audience and brings a fiery close to a superb performance from Thin Lizzy.
The packaging is simple and standard fare from the old Zeus label, they use mostly posed promotional shots of the band, the rear cover includes some brief liner notes which are accurate. Having been under the heavy influence of the new Live And Dangerous deluxe box set I found I could not resist this title and I am glad I did, for its age this is a really good recording and the performance is excellent, the price was a bargain.