ON Christmas Day close to nine million of us tuned into to watch Queen Elizabeth II give her festive speech but at The Maltings next week there is another Lizzy hoping to be a big hit, Limehouse Lizzy to be precise.
Limehouse Lizzy are a tribute to the great Thin Lizzy who rocked the charts in the 1970s and 80s with songs like ‘Whisky in the Jar’ and ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’.
The real thing formed back in Dublin in 1969, and although not formed until well over 20 years later, Limehouse Lizzy have got themselves a sizeable following and after a busy gigging schedule over Christmas are following suit with a packed diary for the new year.
One of the first stops for the band is Berwick on Saturday, January 15, and I spoke to guitarist Greg Alcock, while he grabbed a break between shows, to find out just how it all began for Limehouse Lizzy.
“Well, Wayne (Ellis, frontman) and I worked together at a music shop in East London,” he explained.
“I played guitar, and Wayne played bass, and we were both big fans of Thin Lizzy. Around 1993 we did a version of ‘Dancin’ in the Moonlight’ in the shop (when we probably should have been working) and it brought the house down! That seems to be when it all started off.
“I have always loved Phil Lynott’s music. I was a bit too young to be a Thin Lizzy fan really, as I was only 15 when they broke up. I had an older brother who was a Thin Lizzy fan though, and he also played the guitar. He told me to listen to ‘Live and Dangerous’ album if I wanted to hear a serious band in action!
Over the past few months The Maltings stage has been graced by an array of tribute frontmen including Ben Wattam’s Mick Jagger, and the job of embodying the rock and roll spirit of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott is bestowed on the aforementioned Wayne Ellis, whose first experience of Thin Lizzy, although fleeting, made a lasting impression.
He commented: “I first encountered Thin Lizzy on ‘Look North’, a regional news programme back in the ’70’s. I was immediately struck by Phil Lynott’s whole image and almost overnight became a clone! In fact, I looked way more like him then than I do now and became simply know as ‘Phil’. “As for actually trying to replicate his act professionally - well this has caused me no end of problems!
“For a start, we’re totally a different build physically - he was very tall, lanky and fluid of movement - which makes it that much more difficult to achieve that famous ‘stooping’ posture whilst playing.
“Vocally, we’re a similar register and tone, so that helps. Again, he has vocal mannerisms and inflections that are signature to him that, if adhered to, can add to the illusion.
“But basically, he was a one-off and all people like me could ever hope to do is try to get the notes right, whilst attempting to remind fans of his greatness!”
Greg agreed saying that no tribute act will ever be able to encompass everything that made Thin Lizzy so popular, but Limehouse Lizzy were definitely giving it a good try.
He continued: “Starting out, our main aim was to do the music justice, so we rehearsed a lot in the early days.
“We have also been fortunate enough to have former Thin Lizzy members Brian Robertson (guitar) and Brian Downey (drums) make special guest appearances with the band, which gives you a real insight into how they achieved their sound. We like to concentrate on the visual element too (it is a show after all, and people want to be entertained), but the music needs to be right first and foremost. As to whether we have achieved that, I would say yes, but the audiences will always have the last word.”