Thin Lizzy, Download Main Stage, June 10 2011

The tired cliché that Thin Lizzy are no more than a glorified covers band may be difficult to disprove but it’s about time this revered act is judged on its delivery rather than the identity of its members.

And if January’s headline shows sought to reshape the critics’ views then a dazzling Donington set simply reinforced the view that Lizzy’s 2011 gigs are as incendiary as the band managed to produce during their Live And Dangerous heyday. 

The latest challenge facing Scott Gorham’s revolving doors line-up was the inevitable loss of Vivian Campbell. The Ulsterman’s painstaking approach to filling Brian Robertson’s shoes was a highlight of the band’s latest UK run – an incredible attention to detail ensuring sparkling renditions of Lizzy’s trademark hits.

In his stead Gorham appointed ex-Guns N Roses guitarist Richard Fortus – a surprise choice given the calibre of candidates interviewed, including one of the UK’s finest exponents of the rock n roll riff. The weak link on an otherwise triumphant day, it’s clear Fortus needs time to settle into an unfamiliar yet appetising role.

Perhaps Campbell’s appearance on The Boys Are Back In Town wasn’t the best idea. Fortus could have done without a brutal reminder of his predecessor’s natural ability to play Lizzy like it was always meant to be played but the Leppard star’s cameo was a crowd-pleasing highlight for everyone else.

Ricky Warwick can, of course, offer Fortus all the advice and inspiration he requires. The former Almighty frontman wasn’t the fans’ choice – and wasn’t necessarily Gorham’s ideal pick – but in terms of passion, persona and power there are few better singers in the business. Warwick slayed the Castle Donington crowd from start to finish and looks an even better prospect now than he did five months ago.

Offering a setlist for the purists and a line-up for the appreciative onlooker, this Lizzy gig was one of the best all weekend and the ‘glorified covers band’ looked right at home commanding the main stage. There might be no Lynott but this is still Lizzy. Ditch the prejudices, ignore the lazy critics and feel the music.

Simon Rushworth