Sunday, February 26, 2012

Irish Tour '74, Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher was never a rock star. He was above all a musician.  Touted as the ‘greatest guitarist in the world’ by Jimi Hendrix, Gallagher was renowned as a diligent master of his craft. His commitment to his work resulted in Irish Tour ’74, one of his most revered releases.

As “The Troubles”, a time of enthoreligious and political outbursts erupted over Northern Ireland, most acts obliged under warnings to keep away from the tumultuous region. Gallagher, however, included it on the itinerary of every tour of Ireland. “I lived there for a while and I learned a lot playing the clubs there, so I have a certain home feeling for the place,” says Gallagher in the recently reissued Irish Tour ’74 DVD. His shows at Belfast’s Ulster Hall, Dublin’s Carlton Cinema and Cork’s City Hall shaped the aptly titled album and film.

As a man who considered studio recording as little more than a necessary chore, Gallagher hit his stride onstage. With the success of 1972’s Live in Europe behind him, Irish Tour ’74 sealed his live reputation. Such onstage prowess is demonstrated as he stomps through Going Through My Home Town and a string on his mandolin breaks. Gallagher hardly notices and carries on. Still, its Walk On Hot Coals that prevails as the album’s crowning achievement, as it ascends into an outstanding juxtaposition of ardent tremolo and thrilling staccato. It’s in this form, enthusiastic and in his element, that Rory Gallagher should be remembered.