Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Boys were Back in Town

The boys were back in town last weekend for Dublin’s Phil Lynott exhibition and birthday commemoration. It was a terrific weekend; not too much whiskey in the jar, but a lot of Guinness in the glass! Dublin on a Saturday night can be Live and Dangerous, especially when packed out with visiting French Rugby fans, but thankfully it was a peaceful and respectful commemoration with little need of any Sunday Jailbreak!

Enough of the clichés.

A good exhibition should keep the visitor both entertained and interested with the right balance of visual and audio presentations, and catch the eye with unique, preferably exclusive memorabilia. A visitor should leave with a feeling that they have learned more than they knew, and with a warm glow of affection for the subject. Get it right and the visitor should also leave with some merchandise tucked firmly under the arm, or at least a new tee-shirt. Dublin’s Lynott exhibition successfully fulfilled the above criteria.

Over 10 rooms or so, the exhibition traces Lynott’s story from Manchester birth, Dublin childhood and formative teens, through his glory years of Thin Lizzy success to the climax of his sad all-too-early end in London. Personal early photos and school reports were thankfully kept as a brief introduction to the man, with the bulk of the exhibition material concentrating on his musical career. Set lists, tour accounts, advertising posters, tour programmes, candid photos and personal letters home built up a picture of this complex man, following his rise from teenage band member to international headliner. DVD presentations of concert footage (including his Top of the Pops appearance), the reminisces of fellow-band members, and collections of his personal effects, put flesh on the man.

The ‘wow’ factor was provided by his Fender Precision bass, stage clothing and Manchester United jacket!

The pity is that it was a temporary exhibition as it would have been great addition to Dublin’s more permanent rock-heritage attractions. There was one well-known photo I half-expected to see; it’s of Lynott casually posing with Gary Moore and George Best in a local pub. It wasn’t there, but in a way that was as it should be. When the exhibition is over at least this bit of Dublin’s Lynott will still be there to discover for anyone taking a Guinness at O'Donohue's pub on Merrion Row.

And what did I learn? That Thin Lizzy's first London gig was upstairs at Ronnie Scotts Club; that Phil was a rampant Man Utd fan; that £40 was a considered quite a good fee at the begining of their career; that Tim Booth of Dr Strangely Strange (who I once met and can thank for turning me on to Paul Brady) designed the 'Thin Lizzy' type face; that the same money that bought you a Lizzy LP in 1976 buys you less than a third of a pint of Guinness in Dublin now; and that my mate Geoff, a normally fantastically talented photographer, forgets to activate his flash when over-awed by the presence of the famous! More of the last in my next post...

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