JUST AS SOON as The Joe O'Donnell Band left the stage the people were on their feet flush up to the makeshift barrier in front of the stage, jockeying for choice positions, jammed so tight together that nobody could turn around to spit. The whole hall seemed to be wired on booze, adrenalin and nervous anticipation. Me, I just sprawled about on the balcony, grinning at everybody and feeling inexplicably glad to be there.
When Rory Gallagher and band finally made the stage all the tension that had been cranking up in volume for the past half hour finally found a point of focus, and 2000 plus wild-eyed rock'n'roll crazy people did the things 2000 plus wild-eyed rock'n'roll crazy people normally do when confronted with their hero. Rory smiled a lot and plugged in.
I guess he's a star of sorts, but he doesn't act like one, doesn't dress like one, and he sure doesn't play like a man who's earned enough respect from his fans to take it easy now and again. He does everything with verve and total commitment, his playing omnipotent and aggressive, riding hot rails over his band's energised rhythms.
His slide playing, in particular, was potent and fiery, his bottleneck slipping and skittering up and down the fretboard, propelling an intense inferno of notes wild with emotion. His fans, needless to say, greeted every number with the same ecstatic cacophony but for me the country blues numbers were the most enjoyable, primarily because his playing was less cluttered and claustrophobic, and more fluid, with more emphasis on technique than power.
Without a doubt, however , the most exciting moment came at the end of the show, with "Bullfrog Blues. " Lusty and rocking, quite simply the most exciting rock'n'roll I've heard in a long time. Listening to it on Saturday night, I think came as close as a non-disciple can come to experiencing something the other 2000 Gallagher fanatics present had been feeling all night.
After the show he jumped down onto the row of tables that had been hastily erected to form a barrier to shake hands with the fans nearest the stage. Nobody got heavy , and everybody went home. happy. The atmosphere had been incredible, high on good times; I wanted to laugh, I don't know why, I just laughed anyway.
"Listen, you just write that Rory Gallagher is the very best we've ever had at Leeds University, and we've had all the greats here." Andy Haddleton, the Entertainments Secretary, said that. I'm not so sure, but there again, I don't claim to be any special kind of fan.
What I would say, however, is that in his field Rory Gallagher is the best, and as a performer he gives his fans more value for money than anybody I've ever seen. And I'd have to be some kind of bastard to knock that.
I've come to the end of the review without giving his band their due
An obvious error considering they played perfectly, rockin' and
without fault, as far as I could tell.
John Hamblett -
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