On the Road with Rory
ROLLICKING RORY - LIVE AT LEEDS
TYLER FOUND OUT JUST HOW HARD LIFE ON THE ROAD IS
WHEN HE FOLLOWED RORY
GALLAGHER NORTH ON A COUPLE OF GIGS.
RORY GALLAGHER (above) with back to audience goes through his paces at
the Leeds gig. With him is Gerry McAvoy on bass and Wilgar
Campbell on drums. Right, Rory in action again.
them everywhere. Those uniformed peak capped gendarmes with
sergeant stripes and an air of placid bewilderment.
“Now in my
day…” you can almost sense the words taking shape behind the grim
posture. He was there at Rory Gallagher’s Leeds Town Hall show,
emotionally uncommitted and sitting with legs and arms crossed in
defiance of the manic hysteria that had enveloped the place.
got into these young people? Nice kids basically.
Probably polite to their mums and dads and did their
homework. And now they were acting like a bunch of savages ‑
yelling and jumping up and down, gyrating, undulating in waves of
hysteria. If it wasn’t for the nice Town Hall Sergeant they’d
probably tear this Rory Gallagher fellow apart and grind the Hall into
small pieces. Can you imagine Leeds without a Town Hall?
(“On your right, ladies and gentlemen, what used to be Leeds Town Hall
until Rory Gallagher came along.”)
Gallagher. It kind of sounds like a storm coming. Yet when
you listen to “Deuce” you think, O.K. I suppose. And when you
think back to Taste, the conflict and all the directions they
seemed to be pulling in, you still wonder what all the fuss is
about. But it all became clearer on Friday night in Leeds and on
Saturday in Manchester.
Waters knows. When he came over to cut the “Muddy Waters In
London” album he asked for Rory, along with Mitch Mitchell, Stevie
Winwood and Rick Gretch (an album we’re still waiting on).
taken a close look at those old bruised guitars he uses? A
Stratocaster for straight chording and most of the sweeter
sounds. He bought it second‑hand nine years ago. The
rust colored bodywork has been hacked mercilessly, as if he
dragged it face down along Southend beach. The fret board is grey
with fatigue and he hasn’t bothered replacing the missing bridge cover.
Telecaster is another piece of vintage woodwork from Fender.
It’s of indeterminate age and character. Again no bridge cover
and the body, bleached from sweat, is the color of milky scrambled
eggs. He usually tunes it to an A or E chord for slide work.
Also in his
arsenal is a handsome Martin D‑35 acoustic. Off‑stage it
produces the mellowest sounds imaginable but, zounds and
curses, put it through a 400 watt p.a. and you might as well be inside
an oil drum. He tried a pick‑up, but in by‑passing the wood it
was no longer an acoustic guitar.
mandolin fares better. Imagine mandolin a la Ravioli spiced up
with lashings of red pepper. He bends over the tiny instrument,
holding it in an uncompromising grip and attacks the strings
ferociously. Not quite what you might hear in those better
typifies the rock world’s new breed of anti‑heroes. He looks like
a paper boy in his plimsolls and blue jeans and sounds like a
45‑year‑old black bluesman.
onstage straight over to the voice mike, throws his arms into the air
heroically and gives his audience a double‑barreled thumbs‑up sign:
very much. Thanks for coming” and for the next 1 3/4 hours he
doesn’t stop moving.
encourages the sort of scenes that only a handful of artists are
capable of ‑ artists like Bolan, Sabbath and Purple. His
stage habits are undeniably flash, the way he leaps around
machine‑gunning his sidemen. But he still relies heavily on
the music. There’s no eye‑glitter and few crotch gestures.
Cork, Southern Ireland, 24 years ago, he always fancied himself as a
Lonnie Donegan or Muddy Waters, being something of a loner on and
off‑stage. Only brother Donal gets close it would seem.
playing ukulele when he was six. At nine, he bought a wooden
guitar and began playing skiffle for socials and in talent
contests. Three years later he lashed out 12 gns. on a solid body
electric ‑ a Rosetti Solid 7.
He tried to
put a band together, but since there was no beat scene in Southern
Ireland ‑ no audience or crowd ‑ he spent the next three years
rehearsing. Then came an offer from the Impact Show Band and
dates as far a field as England, Germany and Spain, mostly ballrooms
and army bases. It was a sort of pub band with brass and Rory was
the token young rebel. The resident Chuck Berry.
returned to Ireland in 1966 the beat scene had taken shape. He
hired Eric Kitteringham on bass and Norman Damery on drums and formed
the first Taste.
mostly rock blues in the Berry idiom, plus some original
material. They played all over Ireland and again in England and
Germany but folded after two years over what is politely called
click anymore,” says Rory. Then came Taste Mark I I with John
Wilson and Richard McCracken, two highly accomplished musicians who
went on to form Stud.
It was a
hard working rock and blues band with a knack of making instant contact
with audiences. Everything seemed to come to a head at the Isle
of Wight ‘70 Festival. The audience response staggered most
observers who hadn’t acknowledged Gallagher or Taste as any sort of
surprised by the reaction?
really. We’d been used to that sort of thing on a smaller scale.
It just happened to be the first time we were announced as a success.”
a number of reasons for Taste souring. It’s said that Rory,
browsing through the accounts one day, discovered that Wilson and
McCracken, whom he’d always understood to be his side‑men, were
receiving an equal cut of the takings, which by this time were
into three figures. He doesn’t intend making the same mistake
again. Gerry McAvoy on bass and Wilgar Campbell, the drummer, are
under no illusions as to their function. They are paid to back
of the first Taste: “Everything went fine until the last couple of
weeks. Then they decided to form their own band. They were
obviously fed up with me and my material and I was fed up with them
being fed up with me. They weren’t happy playing slow blues
numbers. But I hate going over the supposedly lurid
details. You get fed up to your teeth and you have to do
something else. I was tied up in contracts and it took a while to
October 1970 until he made the ‘Rory Gallagher’ album in March the
following year, he shuffled between London and Ireland, untangling the
contractual mess, thinking, writing and practicing.
Wilgar were playing in Deep Joy, a nice little band and
progressive as the word stood at the time. It folded a
couple of months before I approached them. They were fed up
with the way things were going for them so I asked them to make an
album with me.”
in England in May last year and then Ireland, plus gigs in Denmark,
Germany and France. In October they played the U.S. then came
more British and European dates, plus the recording of “Deuce,” which
he cut in not very trendy Dalston, London.
organizes the whole thing, taking about ten days to record and then
presents tapes and a bill (modest by all accounts) to Polydor, his
Hall, like most things in the city, is in need of repair. Canvas
awnings hang and flap from its walls. Inside, the place is like a
huge bell, held together by pillars and tresses and embellished by
angels, cupids and colored mauve, pink and olive green.
were rounding off their set as Rory tuned up guitar against harmonica,
against mandolin and Gerry’s bass. Wilgar warmed up on a table,
tapping out rhythms against a pink towel.
And as the
cries of “Rory, Rory” built up Wilgar, Gerry and then Rory took the
stage. It took just the few opening chords of “Used To Be” to
shake loose any remaining inhibitions.
off on the Stratocaster with numbers like “Toredown” and “Should Have
Learnt My Lesson.” Suddenly he drops the pace and switches to
acoustic for “Pistol Slapper Blues” by Blind Boy Fuller and “Don’t Know
Where I’m Going.” But because he can’t manage anything like a
half decent tone it’s a bring down.
builds again with the mandolin number “Going To My Home Town,” one of
the most attractive in his repertoire. He works into the song
gingerly via a sensitive intro but soon opens up, all the while
pounding his foot against the creaky stage. And by the time Gerry
and Wilgar come in the mood is one of pandemonium.
evening’s end two girls have fainted on their feet and Rory narrowly
misses getting split down the middle.
idea is a sort of jungle instinct,” he says afterwards. “It’s the
beat. What would bring me down is if they were raving and not
listening to the music. Some musicians knock their audience if
they sit down and knock them when they rave. They shouldn’t have
to dictate. It should be done with the music.
“I try not
to analyze the hysteria because then it becomes premeditated, almost
manufactured. That’s something that happens with artists that
come from the promotional stables. You must be able to control
and understand it to some degree otherwise you wouldn’t know what’s
good and what’s rubbish but the thing is to keep the ear on the music
and not get involved with all those other aspects. That’s what
can get you messed up.
of reaction we got at the Isle of Wight we were getting years before in
Ireland. But you always have to keep it in your head that it
could go either way. Once it becomes a matter of course you start
was like playing for a bunch of relatives. Everyone was really
happy and at the end I felt like going round and shaking everyone’s
hand. You could walk off stage with a long face and get yourself
a new sort of reputation. Good luck to the groups that feel that
way. They’re probably like that every day of their lives.”
yet released a single and has no intention of changing his
policy. “I’m afraid of what that whole scene does to
people. The Stones and Canned Heat have put out some nice
ones. But in England it involves a lot of unnecessary
ballyhoo. In America it’s just another piece of music on plastic.
it becomes a big phobia about what color suit goes with what color
scarf and the whole thing gets out of hand. It’s O.K. to wear a
sharp suit. But even the jean thing can get out of hand. It
all depends on your attitude.
like the New Seekers supply music for people who want that style.
And they get tired on the road just like us. They have the same
worries as we do and there’s really no point in knocking them as
From Disc and Music Echo April
Thanks the Brenda O'Brien for sharing & typing this article
reformatted by roryfan