LIVE GALLAGHER livegallagher.JPG
by Tony Stewart

Rory Gallagher looked fresh, but admitted to being just a little tired. And it's not surprising he felt some fatigue, because since his band first started Rory has played the role of the rambling, traveling musician, getting his music over to people in a perpetual series of concerts.

Even the day we met, seated in Polydor's luxury reception area, he had been in the country only four hours, having just flown in from Ireland.

There, he says, he had a hectic work schedule. “But I like that, because I don't feel like a musician when I'm not playing.”

Gallagher, a soft spoken guy from Cork, who deliberates over words and goes out of his way to be lucid, digs going back home. And that tour was the best yet.

Right. But it's rarely the Gallagher band bombs out. If my opinion isn't proof enough, just listen to his new set  “Live in Europe”. It's only been on sale for a week, and has already almost equaled the sales of each of the two studio sets.

People seem to go for the rough, gutsy Gallagher they've become accustomed to hearing at the concert hall.

“I just had the feeling the next album was going to be a live one,” he told me thoughtfully. “I'd done the two studio ones, and I felt it was time. Strictly speaking, I've never made a live album in my life. There was one released when I was with Taste, but I actually wasn't involved with the making of that. So this time, I had the thrill of being involved.”

“And I had a few songs like “Going to My Hometown”, that I couldn't visualise being recorded in a studio.”

“I just felt very alive at the time in the sense of concerts and with the whole music, whereas previously the songs had always seemed to lead towards a studio.” “I might not make another live album for a while depends whether I feel it; it's instinct.”

“This new album was done in very hectic circumstances. The actual recordings were done in February and March. And even when the tapes were being recorded, I was dashing back and listening and taking notes.”

“Certain gigs were suitable for recording, and the mobile units were only available at certain times. We ended up with nine tapes of gigs from all over the place, so it was a case of staying up late at night and mixing at three in the morning. But I'm very happy with the results. And the company got it out in time, so it's current.”

“Like, another month wouldn't have made that much difference, really, but it wouldn't have the same sting to those people who were listening to those particular concerts recently.”

The music Press reviewers have unanimously decided the band are at their best on stage. To some extent the sales figures- rising at a considerable rate- emphasize the same point.

“I'd agree,” said Gallagher, “in as much that every single artist I know. Comparing live and studio albums, I may come over more human, the Stones sound human even on the studio stuff.”

“ But on live performances, I tend to be excited and do kind of a hairy thing, so you have to work hard to create something similar in a studio.”

To achieve the cosmopolitan feel on his “In Europe” collection, Gallagher recorded many performances both here and there. Although, undoubtedly a remarkable set, it highlights something he has been criticised for. The album features the stage show he's currently performing and some people have described that as boring and even predictable.

Rory has an answer.

“If you aren't turned on by my particular stuff, then it'll be be boring. But if you like my's all right. It's as simple as that.  I can only look at the reaction. I still get excited. I still get excited like I did when I was a 15 year old musician.”

“On stage, I'm predictable in as much as I don't dye my hair a different colour every week. And I have the same guitar. But I don't believe in false change.”

Yet it's pretty apparent that his musicians, Wilgar Campbell and Gerry MacAvoy, are very much sidemen, almost in  a secondary role - propelling Gallagher's style.

Says Gallagher: “The same criticisms should be leveled at Bill Haley, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and so on. “If you're a big enough artist people don't consider it. But if you're like me, and have been connected with an organised group at one stage, it's an inevitable criticism.”

“It happens because the kind of music I play, which is free form, is restricting in the rhythm section. If you're playing music as blues based as mine, the rhythm section is always restricted. That's one restriction of the blues.”

“It comes across like the rhythm section are just doing a job of work. But to me, they play a lot more than that. I don't under-estimate them at all.”

“One could say that Charlie Watts is restricted in the Rolling Stones. But which would the Stones prefer?”

“To stick in Elvin Jones, who plays so many different types of things in the rhythm section? It would ruin the Stones music.”

“So a fantastic jazz drummer would ruin my music. If you keep that in mind when you're listening to the two lads, it will make you appreciate how good they are and how tight they play.”

Anyway the sales of albums for the Gallagher band are now matching their audience of pubbling power.

Spreading his arms, he stated: “I'm not looking to be crucified. I'm quite happy, I've a lot of ambition, but of my own kind. It'd be great if this album or the next goes to the Top 10 albums. It'd give me a real kick, because at least I could say that the chart still has some relation to live gigs.”

“You can have a hit single without even playing – like Whistling Jack Smith, who didn't exist at all: the Archies or the Monkees. That's nothing to do with real music.

“I think music has something to do with playing and people and sweating and dressing rooms and breaking strings. That's music to me.

This article comes from the 5/27/72 issue of New Musical Express
reformatted by roryfan
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added 7/2/06