Watch Thin Lizzy’s Iconic Midnight Special Debut: Grit, Charisma, and “Jailbreak”
via The Midnight Special / YouTube
Once again, the treasure trove of classic rock history held by The Midnight Channel’s YouTube channel has yielded another gem. This time, it’s footage of Thin Lizzy performing the timeless “Jailbreak” on The Midnight Special, which was broadcast on March 25, 1977.
The clip is a nostalgic peek into an episode hosted by the legendary Aretha Franklin, who briefly appears at the beginning of the video. Thin Lizzy shared the stage with The Babys, Australian singer-songwriter Brian Cadd, and Neil Sedaka. Alongside “Jailbreak,” the band also treated the audience to “Don’t Believe A Word,” a track released on the “Johnny the Fox” album the previous August.
While Brian Robertson played on the studio versions of both songs, he was notably absent from The Midnight Special performance.
A club altercation in London before the band’s US tour with Queen had left Robertson with injured tendons and nerves, causing him to miss the North American engagements. Filling his shoes was Gary Moore, who had previously played with the band in 1973 and 1974 and contributed to the 1974 album “Nightlife.”
Scott Gorham, reflecting on the substitution, praised Moore’s talent and adaptability:
“Not only was Gary a great guitar player, but he already knew a good portion of the material. And the stuff that he didn’t know, we just kinda threw at him over the next two or three days. When we got to America we went into a rehearsal room and just pounded it out, and the next day we were up and running.”
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The outcome was a rendition of “Jailbreak” that exuded more grit than the studio version.
The performance opened with the customary flashbombs exploding alongside the first chord, followed by the trademark police sirens during the instrumental section. And commanding the spotlight was the remarkable Phil Lynott, a stunning blend of magnificence and an almost ethereal exhaustion. Lynott radiated a rock star charisma unique to him, captivating the audience with his mere presence.
The historic Midnight Special debut showcased Thin Lizzy’s raw energy and Lynott’s charismatic magnetism. This performance of “Jailbreak” remains a testament to the band’s enduring impact on the rock landscape, a snapshot of a moment when the stage came alive with their powerful presence.