Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour (40th Anniv) Review

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Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck pretty well defined the start of my interest in the electric blues guitar back in my prime “music exploration” days.  I would be come a fan of many other guitarists in a variety of genres, but I never heard a mention of Rory Gallagher.   gallagher

Decades later, my concert buddy loaned me a disk, the earlier version of this one, Irish Tour.  Which was followed by a DVD.  And later a biography of sorts by his bassist.  And now Rory is the benchmark that I judge blues guitarists by.  He wasn’t the greatest lyricist, but the blues doesn’t require that.  And he certainly wasn’t the greatest singer.  But as a package, you won’t hear a truer musician in translating emotion to music. 

These shows were recorded during the “Troubles” in Ireland between Catholics and Protestants.  Gallagher’s brother includes a disappointing narrative in the set that can’t hold to a timeline or subject, but the point is that there was real danger in playing at the selected venues, for the musicians and the crews that were determined to record the shows.  But Gallagher was Irish and determined.

The deluxe package, which is imported, includes all 16 songs from his Cork show (also released in the U.S. as a 2 disk version), all 14 songs from his Dublin show three days earlier, and 16 from his Belfast show 4 days prior to that.  The recording quality varies, with Cork being the best.  It would take a lot of note taking, though, to figure out which versions of the songs are the best.

rory

And that’s because, in this age of programmed lighting and special effects where nothing is left to chance, this was live music as it ought to be, where music is being created rather than replayed.   Gallagher goes where he wants to go, and it’s up to his band to watch or listen for the cues. 

As a result, these aren’t refined or precise songs.  If you want your blues played perfectly and devoid of emotion, try Joe Bonamassa or the last 35 years of Eric Clapton.   In 1974, Gallagher was at his peak, and these songs feature one “wow” moment after another from a guy who can extract any sound he wants from his guitar. 

Spotify was kind enough to include the full set for those uninitiated. 

5 of 5 STARS

 

 

 

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