Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gary Moore - Live At Montreux (1990)

Note: This review was originally posted on Bridge To Better Days. I am reposting it here for archival purposes. It has been backdated to the date of its original posting.

I asked for, and got, a Gary Moore concert DVD for Christmas, which I just got around to watching the other night (which is just as well, as it gave me a good electric blues performance to watch on my birthday). This is the first Gary Moore item I own, although since watching the DVD, I have put a few of his albums on my "want" list.

I believe I was first introduced to Gary Moore through my classic rock message board forum of choice (not a big surprise). I know him best as the guy who inherited Peter Green's old guitar. And not only does he own it, but he plays it. And he's a real Peter Green fan - he even recorded an album of covers in tribute (one of the albums I added to my list). He was around back in the '70s, and had some connection with Peter Green, I think. Pretty sure he played with the band Thin Lizzy at some point. Had some solo success, and then in 1990 he released Still Got The Blues, which is kind of his blues revival akin to Eric Clapton's From The Cradle.

The DVD I got is the live performance in 1990 from the Montreux "Jazz" Festival, by Gary Moore and the Midnight Blues Band. More or less, it's Still Got The Blues in a live concert format. And it's very good.

Gary Moore can play the blues convincingly, and yet, he's also quite the shredder. If you're curious about what "blues shredding" must sound like, just listen to Gary play one of the many old blues tunes on this disc. He's incredibly talented, and he does a good job of imitating other players. For example, the Peter Green covers he does really do manage to capture that Peter Green sound, just with a little shreddy flair over top in parts. And Gary does an impressive cover of Roy Buchanan's The Messiah Will Come Again at the close of this concert. Just doing the song itself is an amazing thing, but he actually plays it convincingly. I wouldn't say these covers are better than the originals, but they're very good, and certainly worth listening to (especially if you could hear them live in person) - and part of that is a testament to Gary's taste, and the sheer quality of the artists he's so moved to cover.

And despite the blues being all about covers, two of the songs that stood out to me were what I presume are Gary originals - or at least had more of an original sound to them than the majority of blues standards he played. Midnight Blues is a good song, very soulful, and the title track from the album, Still Got The Blues, is an incredible song in its own right. Simple, but oh so powerful. "So long, so long ago, but I've still got the blues for you." I even got a little teary-eyed during the song. Another of Gary's tricks, perhaps even contrary to his shredding, is the sustain he can get, holding certain notes for extended periods of time - something I've always admired in a guitar player.

Albert Collins guests on a couple songs. It's quite illuminating watching Collins and Moore play together on stage. You've got the old watch going up against the new blood. Naturally, Collins plays with less notes and more soul, but you can't deny Moore's proficiency with his instrument. You have to wonder how a guy like Collins must feel on stage at a time like that. To his credit, he's a revered legend, but I can imagine myself in his position. "Yeah, I've got soul and a strong reputation, but this guy can just play circles around me, how in the hell am I supposed to save face?" And yet, I think he manages to do a pretty good job. He's also a bit of a showman, which helps - I actually read that he used to do the "walk into the crowd while playing a solo" trick that I've seen Buddy Guy do, and that one time, he actually walked out of the venue, went down a block, ordered a pizza, and came back to the stage, all while playing a guitar solo - followed by the pizza guy showing up to the stage with the pizza he ordered at the end of the song. Yeah.

Anyway, Collins does one of his own songs - Cold Cold Feeling - which really struck a chord with me. Sounds somewhat Jimmy Dawkins-esque, and I've been downright crazy about Jimmy Dawkins lately (within my bluesphere). At any rate, I've put an Albert Collins album on my "want" list, too. He's another of the classic bluesmen I've heard a lot of praise for, but hadn't been properly introduced to. I'm excited to hear more.

Before we leave the Collins "thread", another comparison we can make between him and Gary Moore is in singing ability. Gary's a pretty good singer for his material, fairly melodic, but compared to Collin's bluesy growl...well, there is no comparison. Sorry, Gary. Of course, Gary's a "prettier" singer, but lemme tell ya boy, one thing the blues ain't, is pretty.

So what have I got left to say? Gary also does some Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) and Stevie Ray Vaughan impressions (on guitar, of course). I've enjoyed listening to Gary Moore, and he puts on a great show. I recommend blues fans interested in what I've described here to check him out. I'm not about to put him in my list of top favorite guitarists - maybe if he had a bit more soul and less shredding - but his talent is impressive, and I have no hesitation in putting him on my 'good' list. I wonder if he tours around here - I got the impression he was never as big in the US. By the way, he's an Irishman, just for the sake of curiosity.

Gee, I wasn't sure if I'd have enough for a book report. And now I feel like I'm back in elementary school...

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