Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Gary Moore - Live From London

I daresay there will be lots of hard core Gary Moore fans salivating at the prospect of a firework display of axemanship from yer man, courtesy of this previously unreleased live recording from the Islington Academy in 2009.  Me?  What I want to hear is the kind of freewheeling ease and blues feeling that was evident on Moore’s first blues outing, Still Got The Blues – an album that was a real attention-grabber for me.  Suffice to say there’s enough happening on Live From London to satisfy both constituencies.
Gary Moore in characteristically chilled performing mode
Balance is the key.  There’s a cracking stretch in the second half of the set where Moore spreads out on Donny Hathaway’s soulful slowie ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’,
breezes through ‘Too Tired’, hits the bullseye with the restrained ‘Still Got The Blues’ (my all-time favourite GM track), and then coasts merrily through ‘Walking By Myself’, throughout all of which I’m a veritable happy bunny.
‘I Love You More . . .’ is a real highlight, as delicate as it gets, with long organ chords from Vic Martin providing the foundation for a vocal delivered with real feeling, and an excellent slow guitar solo.  ‘Still Got The Blues’ is even better in the slow blues stakes, with a great melody and a lovely guitar refrain, and ultimately a wonderful solo that communicates emotionally.  In between, ‘Too Tired’ is simply good fun, with bobbing bass from Peter Rees, and a playful guitar/organ passage (even if here, as in other places, Vic Martin’s organ sound is distractingly trebly to my ears), while they swagger along with the stop-time riff ‘Walking By Myself’, Martin adding piano on this occasion and Moore knocking out some of his best nimble-fingered fretwork.  All of this is a real purple patch, and the following ‘The Blues Is Alright’ ain’t too shabby either.
There’s a similar hot spell earlier in proceedings, even if it doesn’t quite reach these heights.  ‘Since I Met You Baby’ has a stop-start riff on the verses, and a swinging chorus, plus some scorching soloing from the main man – raw, varied, and high on entertainment value.  John Mayall’s ‘Have You Heard’ is a slowish affair that could do with more dynamics on the volume front, but features satisfyingly diverse guitar work – some typical breakneck licks to be sure, but also slow segments and long, sustained notes.  Then ‘All Your Love’, the Otis Rush classic captured by the Bluesbreakers on the Beano album, kicks off with a quiet, twinkling intro before Moore cranks out its distinctive riff and going on to deliver it with admirable moments of subtlety.
Across the piece, right from the punchy opener ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ to the closing ‘Parisienne Walkways’, the rhythm section of Rees on bass and drummer Steve Dixon keep things rock solid.  And while that periodically plinky-plonk tone of Vic Martin’s keys may get on my wick, he still provides a suitable foil for Moore’s guitar, especially with the deeper, long chords on the likes of ‘Have You Heard’.
Personally I could live without ‘Parisienne Walkways’, a song I’ve always found overrated, but I guess that’s a minority view, and Moore certainly gives it some oomph with a big, dramatic solo.
When Gary Moore returned to his roots with Still Got The Blues it sounded to me like he’d finally found the key to the highway, after all his previous musical peregrinations.  Recorded 14 months before his untimely death, this performance shows that he could still wrangle a fretboard in the manner guitar freaks will adore.  But more importantly, the sound of Live From London is that of an artist who still knew just why he played the blues.

Live From London is released by Provogue Records on 31 January.

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