Messin’ with a ‘quake in Brum
By Jerry Gilbert

Back in Birmingham just a month after his triumph at the Kinetic Circus; the kid messin’ with the blues and sounding more convincing than ever.  Not a spare seat in the house until the crowd took their gyratings into the aisles and the temperature rose by a few more degrees.

This time it was the Town Hall, but the bill was the same with Nazareth playing the kind of solid supporting role every top line band needs.  But if opening nights, by definition, are fraught with worries, the gremlins decided to lie low until the second concert at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall the following night.

Robin Sylvester, who engineered “Deuce”, had intended recording the concert with the Pye Mobile Unit for a possible five album, but at the eleventh hour it was discovered that Pye had not received the confirmatory letter and it took a frantic dash up the motorway to ensure that the recording went ahead as planned.

If you'd missed the opening night you could have gauged its success by peering into the dressing room afterwards.  Rory, looking thoroughly spent was surrounded by admirers and was patiently trying to conduct an interview and throw out asides to his followers at the same time.  He stuck rigidly to his task and we didn't see much of him for the remainder of the evening.  A few yards away the first champagne cork shot to the ceiling and everyone seemed delighted.


Ninety minutes earlier Rory had trooped on stage to a tremendous ovation, and if one says that his routine is planned and his repertoire reasonably predictable, then one must qualify it by adding that through his choice of material he is able to manifest an almost uncanny exuberance of styles without ever venturing more than a few steps outside the blues.  Rory Gallagher is a versatile musician and a supreme showman in the best tradition of the music.

His sidemen Wilgar Campbell (drums) and Gerry McAvoy (bass) share the same enthusiasm for the blues, but this doesn'tsoundstele.jpg preclude Rory from wheeling round, duck walking across and pointing his guitar Chuck Berry style at either Campbell or McAvoy to get the pistons stepping up the machine even further.

The band set a mighty pace with “Used To Be”, and “Tore Down” before slowing the tempo for an extended version of “Should Have Learnt My Lesson A Long Time Ago”.  These were the kind of numbers the audience wanted to hear, and with little more than a few mechanical waves and “thank you's” to punctuate the music Rory pressed on through “Laundromat” and into his acoustic set.

Having already proved his mastery of the slow blues and the slide technique (and thankfully he is not averse to changing his guitar tunings to accommodate the bottleneck) Rory then proceeded to introduce his expertise on acoustic guitar.

His version of Blind Boy Fuller's “Pistol Slapper Blues” was spectacular and justly brought the house down, but underneath it all he showed an outstanding maturity on the instrument that so many electric players lack.

Not since Clarence White have I seen anyone lay down their electric guitar almost disdainfully and pick up their acoustic box to showcase a whole new range of styles.


Rory wears his knowledge of the blues well and seems to be far more relaxed these days, at the same time showing a total commitment to the music which is shared by his sidemen.

Out came the mandolin for “Going To My Home Town” and then back down to business with three absolute gems in succession - “In Your Town”, “There's A Light” and “Messin’ With The Kid”.  Also in there somewhere were “Sinner Boy” from the band's first album and, I believe, “Bullfrog Blues”; by this time you'd have thought an earthquake had hit Birmingham judging from the way the town hall was rocking.


Earlier in the evening Nazareth reinforced their growing reputation, facing the hazard of a crowd who were impatient for Rory.  But the band is used to it - they've supported Rory’s band so many times in the past that it's becoming like a regular tour package.  They still do “Morning Dew” better than the plethora of bands who did it around ‘67 and Dan McCafferty’s singing was again impressive.  They'll do well in the States.

From SOUNDS – March 18, 1972
Thanks to Brenda O'Brien for sharing & preparing this article
reformatted by roryfan

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added  10/30/05