As Vibe regulars know it all starts with the Artwork! With the post-mortems for Vibe 28 out of the way and the forensic examinations roundly discussed and digested we found ourselves asking just how to follow the stunning original Jim Fitzpatrick portrait which defined the 2014 Show. Difficult? You might even say impossible - that is until we stumbled across the phenomenal Tom Noll. Tom's a USA based artist who specializes in portraits of Rock Guitarists against Jackson Pollock-like, expressionistic, backgrounds which give his work a unique energetic feel. We came to Tom through his stunning portraits of Gary Moore, Jeff Beck, and Rory Gallagher.
Imagine our surprise and excitement when we discovered Philo was included among his 'Art that Rocks' series of paintings. Titled 'King of Dublin' it was apparently painted after some serious lobbying by global Lizzyites and is definitely a picture we feel deserves a much wider audience. Tom has kindly agreed to let us use 'The King of Dublin' for the 29th Vibe and the image is already setting the standards for where we believe the 2015 show will be heading.
You can check out Tom's Work and even buy a print of 'The King of Dublin' at www.tomnoll.com
When we said our sub-theme for 2015 was the honest, hard-working, musician, we had the likes of ex Mama's Boys guitarist Pat McManus in mind.
One of the last of a great tradition of exceptional Irish Rock Guitarists, Pat almost turned the 25th Vibe into an open air show as he literally raised the roof with a short, but exceptional, legendary set.
With almost double the time in 2015 the Professor will take you on a trip on the Lizzy Mobile you'll be talking about for years to come. Vicar Street are already preparing for an "open-air" Vibe once Pat hits the stage so some winter wollies might come in useful. You have been warned.
It's universally acknowledged that nobody does it better than The Low Riders with many Lizzy supporters claiming they are "even better than the real thing." Their explorations of the early years has turned forgotten gems into classics and as they only come out once a year it's a highlight to be missed at your peril.
We're still waiting for a Theme/Setlist form the boys but veterans will know to expect the unexpected.
Closing the show will be Bad Reputation, a new Lizzy Tribute led by the legendary Flash Murphy.
Last seen at the Vibe in 2010 when his take on the later Lizzy era blew the roof off the Button Factory, Flash has teamed up with ace -axeman Col McSharry, and Guns and Roses tribute veterans Kieran McDonnell and Johnny Kerr to deliver a set which takes you back in time to the days when Rock was King and "The King's Call was to be heard everywhere.""
The 2015 opening act have a predilection for Earl Grey Tea, Jameson Whiskey, and Wombat preservation, but not necessarily, in that order. They claim to like dragging "the dying art form of the riff into the 20th Century" and describe themselves as a 3 piece distortion orchestra.
They were something of a sensation at the 2014 young rockers matinee while their stripped down industrial driven take on "The rocker" was a 2014 highlight.
At the 28th Vibe, Conor Scott came to town and fairly melted everyone's hearts at Vicar Street. A veteran of The Voice UK, Conor's soulful versions of Philo's acoustic numbers made him many friends in 2014 - not least among female attendee's who all seemed to want to mother him. His heart-rendering set left many (besides his Lizzy-mad Mother) with a tear in their eye and they have been pestering us ever since for a reprise in 2015.
The Belfast boy takes on the difficult 2nd slot at the 29th Vibe and promises a somewhat Dylanesque twist to proceedings.
The Barley Mob create an uplifting blend of music "delivered with equal measures of Rock Riffs, Soulful Melodies, Folk Jigs, and Infectious Beats."
A set exploring the Solo Lynott era channelled through their infectious live delivery is already looking like one of the shows highlights.
Sometimes The Vibe feels like a wedding - something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. We like the new bit - as in dusting off forgotten and overlooked gems and presenting them, quite often for the first time ever, live, for a modern audience to appreciate. For a couple of years now we've had a feeling about a particular song form the “Lost Recordings” which we know deserves a wider audience, but who could pull it off? After several abortive attempts in the past few years we recently found the answer right under our noses.
Josh Dunford will be no stranger to Vibers over the past couple of years when his band Sal Vitro have delivered a couple of show-stoppers. Less well known is that his brother Luke is a pretty neat jazz/blues keyboard player and the boys have teamed up as The Dunford Brothers for a very special trip into the Lynott songbook.
The 29th annual celebration of the words and music of Dublin's favourite musical son saw a stellar line-up at the Thomas Street venue, offering a marathon five hours worth of Philo and Lizzy related fare.
With a venue packed with visitors from home and abroad, the Vicar Street atmosphere was nothing short of electric. If there was some controversy about the fact that this year's event was an all-seated affair, it didn't show.
With the theme for this renewal being 'Get Out of Here', highlights as always were many; they included Dark Lanes' blistering 'Still In Love With You', a return appearance from Belfast troubadour Conor Scott and The Low Riders' rendition of 'Killer On The Loose'. Former Mama's Boy Pat McManus (playing his Gibson 'flying V') offered incendiary versions of 'Jailbreak' and 'Parisienne Walkways', producing what was arguably the best received set of the night.
It wasn't entirely about Philo or Lizzy, mind. The Dunford Brothers and friends offered a nice tribute to the recently departed Joe Cocker on a stirring rendition of 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. Master of Ceremonies Smiley Bolger hinted that he might retire after the 30th Vibe next year now that he has his bus pass - but few would bet on it!
Meanwhile, an emotional Philomena Lynott made her annual address to the faithful. "I loved my son and I still love him - even though I could murder him sometimes,"" she laughed through the tears of joy. Thanking the fans for their continuing support she said Philip's legacy and this event had become "a way of life" for her, and urged the crowd to be "kind to each other and to stop falling out".
Remaining onstage for a rousing rendition of 'Whiskey In The Jar' by The Barley Mob, Philomena looked every bit the 'rock chick' backing singer, and the evening came to a close with a suitably storming set from new Lizzy tribute band Bad Reputation.
Colm O Hare
Phil Lynott is in danger of becoming rock music's very own James Joyce, a pub-mural staple whose posthumous celebrity exists in isolation from his art. In his native Dublin, Lynott is totemic without being especially loved or understood. His bronze likeness stands just off Grafton Street yet, a grab-bag of Thin Lizzy hits aside, his songwriting is arguably undervalued. In that context, the annual Vibe for Philo is a reminder there was more to the Crumlin troubadour than the trashy proto-metal of The Boys Are Back in Town.
As the swirl of international accents around Vicar Street last weekend attested, the 29th such event drew fans from across the globe and they were surely pleased by the breadth of material covered by performers as varied as garage rockers The Dark Lanes, joined by Mark Austin from the Minutes on a sludgy Still in Love With You, and ex-Mama's Boy Pat McManus, reverentially negotiating Roisin Dubh.
Running at over 5 hours, the evening occasionally felt a slog. But diehards will have been glad they stuck it out, with the late singer's mother, Philomena, delivering a heartfelt address and providing backing vocals as the Barley Mob romped through Whiskey in the Jar.