Thin Lizzy - At The BBC
When I was 9 or 10, can’t be absolutely sure, me and a few mates decided we’d be little rockers. Did we actually decide? Or were we, in a genre-crossing foreshadowing of popular music some 30 years hence, simply born this way? Whatever, in a battered old tin box in the loft there's a photo of a scrawny, freckle-faced lad in simply terrible jeans, Woolworths trainers and a shocking brown and orange check cardigan. And topping off that sharp ensemble, a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Black, the classic band logo and the iconic Swansong angel - you know, the one that all the hipsters wear these days to indicate a slyly detached appreciation of the likes of Iron Maiden and Kiss, a nudge-nudge wink-wink that says, yes, they get it.
Pfff. We didn’t lace our schoolboy fandom with irony back then. It probably hadn’t been invented. We made the best of fate having plonked us in a grey north midlands town and bit down hard on the area’s predilection for all fings hard and heavy. Bevan’s Records. The Highwayman. The (holy of holies) Victoria Hall, where the prime movers of NWOBHM came tour after tour to receive its sweaty congregation. We saw everyone. If Kerrang! liked 'em, we liked 'em. My main partner in crime was one Joe Byatt and our leader was Andy Kelsall. He had a denim jacket full o’ patches, a mum who looked after us in the schoolyard and a few years’ advantage on us; a distinction that saw him introduce us to Saturday night boozing when we were just 14. (We were, um, tall for our age.) Taking us under his wing, he asked only that “you both buy your first pint.” A lovely bloke, and, it has to be said, a terrible example to those feckless young men in his care.
He loved Thin Lizzy and he’d have been all over this beautifully curated, enlightening collection (a two-CD summary of a much larger CD/DVD boxset). Quite right, too. Wherever you are now, Andy, this is for you. I owe you a pint. At least.