Rory Gallagher

Comparisons Inadequate

Inadequate - yes, but also inevitable for here. Auckland was presented with the unique opportunity to see the masters of two very different instruments in one week. Beforehand, one could be excused for asking how this, the last concert of Gallagher's Austral-asian tour , could possibly compare with Sunday's effort by Rick Wakeman, yet afterwards one could only ask how some people, when deciding between the two, had been foolish enough to prefer Wakeman.

On the face of it, Wakeman had all the advantages, playing The Springs with a large retinue (complete with inflatable plastic dinosaurs and Charleston dancers), while Gallagher was relegated to Auckland's pathetic Town Hall and played with only a four-piece band. Yet he managed to ignore these natural disadvantages and produce a very exciting show in both sight and sound.

The group exploded onto stage after a fumbled introduction which welcomed the crowd to Wellington and immediately broke into the classic rocker Messin with the Kid. From then on, the audience was theirs as they moved on through other rockers like Cradle Rock, slower blues numbers like A Million Miles Away, into an acoustic set for Pistol Slapper Blues and finishing with another power rocker Bullfrog Blues.

Throughout the night Rory exhibited his versatility on stringed instruments,  comparable to Wakeman's prowess on keyboards, as he played ordinary, acoustic and slide guitars as well as a touch of mandolin, he also provided the frantic vocals and occasionally blew some pretty fine harp. The show was his as he pranced, danced, leapt, and rocked his way about the stage. Dressed simply in denim, he was armed for most of the time with a guitar so battered that one could easily imagine that he bought it second hand off Pete Townsend.

But Rory Gallagher is not just the man. It is also the tight backing band featuring Lou Martin (keyboards), Rod de'Ath (drums), and Gerry McAvoy (bass). Martin's keyboards were consistently good and the rhythm section really came into its own with two fine solos on Bullfrog Blues.

After a two hour concert followed by a strong 10 minute encore, the crowd couldn't take any more. They had danced, stomped and clapped to the point of exhaustion, they called for no second encore, not by way of a put down, but rather because both the group and the crowd just couldn't take any more, both had given their all in making this a truly great evening.

A return visit was promised for next February: don't miss this guitar hero the second time round; and while you're waiting, you can still get the live sound on vinyl with the double set Irish Tour 74.

Stewart O'Reilly

This article comes from the  March 1975 issue of Hot Licks from New Zealand
the background is a mutation of a fuzzy photo in the magazine
reformatted by roryfan
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added 2/12/06