In the end it doesn’t really matter how much of Live and Dangerous was actually recorded live, as it will forever be considered the definitive Thin Lizzy concert album. Harnessing the very life force of front man Phil Lynott, that wild Irish artist with the “live free or die” ethos who threw his heart and soul into every lyric he penned, that record had an electricity and a galvanizing spirit to it that made sparks fly. Without the charismatic Lynott leading the charge, having died in 1986, leaving surviving band members to battle over the rights to the Thin Lizzy name, Live in London 2011 cannot possibly hope to win over the hearts and minds of those who feel that a Lizzy without Lynott is, at best, a pale imitation of the original.

And as for any comparisons to Live and Dangerous, the phrase “apples and oranges” comes to mind, especially as the Thin Lizzy of this recording is, for all intents and purposes, little more than a tribute band – even if, as recent press reports have indicated, they do end up making an album of all new material under a different moniker, out of respect for Lynott. For all of its accolades, there’s been a great deal of controversy over what parts of Live and Dangerous were overdubbed, with producer Tony Visconti and guitarist Brian Robertson espousing their own versions of the truth over the years. Live in London 2011, one of the really expansive and sonically impressive concert recordings recently released by Four Worlds, won’t spark any controversy of that sort, being a complete and unabridged document of a modern-day Thin Lizzy giving a packed London Hammersmith house everything they have in a rousing, workman-like performance that honors the memory of its fallen leader.

Led by Scott Gorham, who along with Brian Robertson sculpted Thin Lizzy’s signature “twin lead guitar” sound, this version of Lizzy – featuring Brian Downey back on drums, singer Ricky Warwick, Marco Mendoza on bass, longtime keyboardist Darren Wharton, and Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell on guitar – gallops and slashes its way through the bruising, saber-rattling “Emerald” and the apocalyptic imagery of “Angel of Death” after barely surviving the frenzied fray of the bruising “Massacre.” Not all fire and brimstone, Live in London 2011 also finds a bittersweet Lizzy mining more melodic – though still gritty and as tough as London’s East End – territory on rough-and-tumble renderings of “Wild One” and “Waiting for an Alibi,” and a more fragile-hearted reading of the bluesy, neon-lit ballad “Still in Love with You.”

Ballads, however, are a rarity on Live in London 2011, with Lizzy intent on riding this horse hard and putting it up wet, as the hard, stimulating funk treatment given to “Sha La La La” – with Mendoza’s bass sounding particularly rubbery and mean – and “Bad Reputation” indicate. “Jailbreak,” with its familiar biting riffs sinking into skin and tearing flesh, runs at a brisk pace, and the building momentum of “Cowboy Song” is electrifying, that reliable old high-flying guitar solo rocketing to the moon as it always has, leading into a somewhat flaccid “Boys Are Back in Town.”

Occasionally, the energy lags, Warwick – though possessing a domineering voice – hits some flat notes and the mix, while mostly superb, giving each instrument good definition and great power, isn’t always perfect – there are times when some of the guitar solos seem distant and fade into the background. Regardless, a celebratory atmosphere pervades Live in London 2011, as Warwick stops to toast the dear, departed Lynott often, and Gorham and Campbell lock in on dual-guitar weavings that couldn’t be more exquisite, while also trading some truly majestic solos. Best of all, Live in London 2011 is one of those concert albums that makes listeners feel as if right in the middle of the stage – the in-between song banter coming through loud and clear – during a rollicking, if not entirely flawless, performance, and for those who weren’t there, or who haven’t experienced the new millennium Thin Lizzy for themselves, this is might just be a good substitute for the real thing