Live At Montreux

Rory Gallagher

“I want to be playing when I'm 50,” Irish son Rory Gallagher stated rather matter-of-factly during a Beat Instrumental interview in June 1971. In all likelihood, the acclaimed blues guitarist would have easily reached that milestone had he not succumb to an untimely demise due to complications during a liver transplant surgery in 1995. Gallagher was 47. If Claude Nobs, the beloved promoter behind the Montreux Jazz Festival, had his way, Gallagher would always have a home on the stage along the Lake Geneva shoreline. In the liner notes for Live At Montreux, a new 12-track CD featuring performances from four separate appearances, Nobs writes, “The day he died I knew that rock and blues in Montreux would never be the same.”

Gallagher played Montreux from the mid 70s right up to the year before he passed away. He also sat in with distinguished artists like Albert King and Larry Coryell at the festival. Alone with an acoustic or in full stride with his 1961 sunburst Stratocaster and dedicated band behind him, Rory Gallagher consistently excelled in a live setting and Montreux provided the ideal backdrop. The Live At Montreux CD is but a brief glimpse of the relationship between the guitarist and the festival. Gallagher put forth a 110 percent at every turn, whether he was burning down the house on numbers like “Laudromat” or “Bought And Sold” or winding down with the acoustic blues of “Out On The Western Plain.” As Cameron Crowe once touted, “It was all about him playing the guitar, it got into your soul.”

A double Live At Montreux DVD takes things a bit further, with the addition of extra material from the four shows (1975, 1977, 1979 and 1985) that are sampled on the CD. The DVD also includes an entire concert from Gallagher’s final appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1994. This footage along with Tony Palmer’s film documenting the illustrious 1974 Irish Tour (also available on DVD) should keep you green in live cinematic Rory Gallagher for the long run. Of course, to fully assess the talents of the man who almost replaced Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones, you might want to check out Irish Tour 1974, Calling Card, and his last album Fresh Evidence. Thankfully, Rory Gallagher left us a large portion of his rich, vibrant take on the blues before departing for the great juke joint in the sky.

~ Shawn Perry

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