Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bluesman Gary Moore Dies at 58

By Steve Evans

Blues fans are saddened by the news that former Thin Lizzy guitarist and renowned bluesman Gary Moore was found dead today in a hotel room in Spain. The Belfast-born Moore, 58, was a hard-rockin‘ founding member of Dublin band Skid Row before he hooked up with Thin Lizzy in 1973. He left after four months but rejoined in ’77 for the band's “Black Rose” album. Today, Thin Lizzy is best remembered for the classic-rock staple, “The Boys are Back in Town,” cut before Moore returned to the group. But Moore will always be remembered for his scorching blues-guitar work, a major influence on Stevie Ray Vaughan and a subsequent generation of musicians.

As a lifelong disciple of the blues and in memoriam to Moore, I’ve dredged the vaults and present my write-up of the bluesman’s gig at the 1990 Montreux Jazz Festival, part of the excellent Live at Montreux DVD series produced by Eagle Rock Entertainment. If you’re not hip to the Live at Montreux collection, you’re missing some of the greatest concerts ever committed to disc. This piece first appeared on

Bluesman Gary Moore seduces a Stratocaster

For the first time on DVD, Gary Moore and the Midnight Blues Band mark their premiere performance at the 1990 Montreux Jazz Festival. Though Moore has appeared at the festival many times since, this gig remains definitive: one hot night of mesmerizing music.

Moore was touring at the time in support of his album Still Got the Blues. This Montreux set features tracks from that CD, plus familiar gems like "Farther On Up the Road." Famed blues guitarist Albert Collins duels with Moore on three songs—with scorching results.

With incredible fretwork and musical instincts exceeded only by passion, Moore's playing holds its own with any contemporary bluesman—Clapton included. Yes, that's a big, bold statement, but the proof burns in digital immortality on this essential DVD. The hard rockin' Dubliner thunders through a 16-song set of furious blues and rock and roll, his vocals soaring across the soundstage in a superb 5.1 mix. From glorious anarchy and cocksure strutting, to aching lament, the man can surely sing them blues. Moore's mastery of the electric guitar is spellbinding. His white-hot chops weave around pin-point support from the Midnight Blues Band, who were hitting it tight that night with a hard set of soul-searing rhythm and full-tilt blues.

If you can sit still while Moore & Co. get off with Texas Strut you probably need defibrillation—or delivery of the last rites. Even the devil, his own bad self, would leave the stage weeping openly if he dared to match Moore chop for bone-crunching chop. Let's cut right to it: if you dig smokin' blues, this disc burns.

Looking for a point of reference? Fans of Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, even ZZ Top, will dance for funky joy and make obeisance to the guitar gods for delivering this DVD into their collection. Buy one and score another for a friend; you'll both thank me later.

The cinematography is superb. Forget all those music videos with a cut every 12 frames. Here, the camera dwells on Moore or individual members of the band for minutes at a time, drawing viewers deep into the music. This is a refreshing change from the sadly typical concert videos that detract from a musician's performance by imposing a machine gun editing pace. Perhaps that's the key difference. Some directors may feel the need to fall back on a lot of fast cuts and camera whoop-de-doo to distract viewers from weak musicianship and facile songs. Moore and his band are brilliant musicians with magic to share. Thank God they've shared it with us.

Set list:
• "Oh Pretty Woman"
• "Walking By Myself"
• "The Stumble"
• "All Your Love"
• "Midnight Blues"
• "You Don't Love Me"
• "Still Got the Blues"
• "Texas Strut"
• "Moving On"
• "Too Tired"
• "Cold Cold Feeling"
• "Farther On Up the Road"
• "King of the Blues"
• "Stop Messing Around"
• "The Blues Is Alright"
• "The Messiah Will Come Again"

Bonus Tracks (1997):
• "Out In The Fields"
• "Over the Hills"
• "Parisienne Walkways"

The video and sound are terrific. Extras are limited to three bonus tracks recorded seven years after the main performance on this disc.

As a standing order (please), the producers of concert discs are admonished to include the DVD equivalent of liner notes on their products. Fans will always welcome contextual information about the musicians, the performance and its place within their careers. Notes are also an inexpensive way to add value while fostering tremendous consumer goodwill.

And with that, I gotta scoot. It's time to get back to some serious blues de-luxe.

Cinema Uprising copyright c 2011 by Stephen B. Evans. All rights reserved.