AS ONE of the finest rock drummers of his generation – and his generation spawned a lot – Thin Lizzy’s Brian Downey has been there, done that and got the T-shirt during his long career.

And yet four decades after his band’s seminal live album ‘Live and Dangerous’, he is heading to London with his new band and looking to bring the magic of the record back to die-hard fans and new audiences alike.

A founding member alongside childhood friend Phil Lynott, Dubliner Downey has always possessed a superb groove and flair behind the kit, and remains among the most underrated drummers in rock.

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Downey in 2011 - Alec MacKellaig

And his back catalogue is copious - twelve studio albums from 1971 until Lynott’s untimely death in 1986 aged 36 include what is probably their best-known LP, Jailbreak, which features the now-mythical worldwide smash Boys are Back in Town.

But, as any serious 70s rock fan will tell you, Lizzy are so much more than ‘that song’.

It was 1978’s Live and Dangerous that cemented the Irish band in the public consciousness. The record went multi-platinum and is still regarded as one of the finest live rock albums ever recorded.

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Pic. Warner Bros

And now, 40 years since the iconic, snarling LP cover made it into living rooms across the world, Downey is doing it all again.

Now 67, Downey has taken some time out after stepping back in 2012 from the long-term Lizzy project that saw other past members including guitarist Scott Gorham go on to form Black Star Riders.

After biding his time and passing on offers along the way, Downey has formed a new band, Alive and Dangerous, alongside three like-minded musicians from Northern Ireland.

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Pic. Larry Canavan

The quartet are heading back to London after three sold-out shows in November, attracting five-star reviews for their uncannily accurate recreation of Lizzy’s original tracks.

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It all started when Brian Grace, guitarist and musical director of the annual Dublin ‘pilgrimage’ concert in memory of Lynott, Vibe For Philo, invited him along to hear some Lizzy devotees gig his old tunes.

Downey explains: “He asked me to come down and said I might be pretty surprised with these guys.

“I was blown away when I saw what was happening on stage. They were so tight and very close to the original band. I’ve never heard a band that was so close.

“Often you come away thinking ‘that was alright but nothing exceptional’, but with these guys I came away with the intention of asking them into a band straight away.

“These guys were listening to Lizzy since they were weaned, they grew up listening to Lizzy and Live and Dangerous and all the rest of it and that really showed.

“It’s amazing situation, those dates last year were just jam packed with Lizzy fans and there was a great reaction.”

The tour takes in Glasgow, Wolverhampton and Newcastle in addition to a night at Camden Underworld, with various European dates and, of course, shows in his native Ireland rounding off a packed year for the veteran drummer.

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Pic. Larry Canavan

So what can audiences expect? An authentic recreation of ‘those’ London shows of 1977, Downey says, when Lizzy devotees packed Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo) and the Rainbow Theatre to the rafters for gigs that have gone down in rock folklore.

And for Downey, who set off with the cult band from Dublin to London in the early 70s to conquer the world, London holds a special place in his heart.

He said: “Forty years is quite a long time to come out and play these songs again.

The memories come flooding back when I’m in the UK, and when anybody talks about Live and Dangerous We went to London lock, stock and barrel from Dublin at the end of 1971, I lived there for 14 years and we recorded all our albums there. It was home really.

“The Rainbow was an incredible place, and the Hammersmith Odeon. The atmosphere was unbelievably electric. At the first Hammersmith show we recorded the audience were just on fire, it was incredible, all our fans were there.

“After all these years it’s great to know that people are very much still interested in Thin Lizzy and going out and buying our records still. Hopefully it will continue!”

Downey has a strong group of musicians around him for the tour. The line-up comprises lead guitarists Grace and Phil Edgar plus Matt Wilson, who steps effortlessly into the role of Lynott on vocals and even bears a passing resemblance to the great man.

But the memory of his great friend, whose sudden death shocked the music world, and former Lizzy guitarist virtuoso Gary Moore who died in 2011 are never far from Downey’s mind.

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Phil Lynott - Pic. Helge Øverås

He said: “Any time I hear any of those songs on the radio I have memories of Phil and Gary and the rest of the guys.

“When we play these songs on stage Phil comes to mind and it all comes flooding back. Most of the gig are dedicated to Phil and Gary.

Phil was an excellent songwriter bar none and as a guitarist you couldn't get any better than Gary Moore. I was so privileged to play with them.

“The emotion is there on stage and that's the way I like it. It keeps everything fresh.”

Brian Downey’s Alive and Dangerous play Camden Underworld on September 28. Tickets: