He laughed in the face of Texaco

Rory Gallagher
Hammersmith Odeon

Roaring for Rory, Gallagher's fans are filling this building like men with a purpose: dour, no-nonsense men, they take their boogie seriously.

Wisely, the bar's been stripped of fancy inessentials presenting, instead, a solitary massive bank of Newcastle Brown. I pass the time counting the lumberjack shirts.

And yes, the invisible guitars are in evidence too (battered Strats, natch). Fascinated, I watch the preparations: an elaborate mime of carrying, unfastening and opening cases; straps over heads, tuning phantom strings. Rory's on the road again, completing another of the gruelling itineraries which have marked his career for a decade or more. Let other musos wax tragic on the horrors of tour-life; Gallagher takes to the road like striped white lines.

Though additions of keyboards and even brass had been foreseen, this time round the quiet Irish axeman has chopped his lineup back to the classic HM three-piece, with Gallagher stalwart Gerry McAvoy on bass and ex-SAHB drummer Ted McKenna.

Last year was, according to the programme, one of "drastic change" for Rory, but any transformation must be too subtle for me to see. The formula looks unchanged - a model of continuity, reassuring familiarity - and exactly that the crowd have come to hear. So the Cork boy floats serenely on; a guitarist of awesome facility and a fair singer as well. But an uninteresting songwriter.

Like most white bluesmen, he might be said to preserve the form of the genre, and religiously so, but never its content. Thus the songs are dispensable litanies of the mythical ramblin' cowboy love-'em-and-leave-em type, washed across the brain with mighty power-chords and meaning precisely nothing to anyone. Of course, blue men can sing the whites; it's just that, generally, they don't.

"Shinkicker" opens, Rory bounding on to an explosion of acclaim. With his irrepressible grin, he's the very picture of a man who's happy in his work.

"THANGYEW!! Nice to be here! Gonna do a song called 'Do You Read Me', Hope you like it!"

They do.

Blue-jeaned, check-shirted, friendly and self-effacing (if being natural really is 'the biggest pose of all then it follows that Gallagher must be rock's biggest poseur), he's only galvanised by the music itself. Playing it loud and proud he struts, grimaces, all the usual stuff.

Fine, but I can draw no more from it than mild nostalgia and find my attention wandering. That said, Gallagher fans know their man and I've sense enough to know the sublime irrelevance of any criticisms.

The set benefits immensely from the inclusion of Gallagher's usual solos; an acoustic thing on "Jesse James" and a steel-slide blues. It's a perfect showcase for the guy's technique and a welcome break from the rather impersonal material which surrounds it.

At the very least, Rory Gallagher's performances are ritual celebrations  and blessedly free from all the dumb and vicious fantasy-peddling that disfigures latterday hard-rock in general. What you expect is what you get, and he neither degrades his fans nor disappoints them.

Paul Du Noyer

Note:  Thanks to Milo Carr for finding the explanation for the odd title to this article. It's a reference to the picketing of the Texaco fuel depot during the particularly cold January.  Here's a picture from that time frame:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/uknews/8209333/Britains-coldest-winters-on-record-in-pictures.html?image=1

The review?? Well,  Mr. Du Noyer apparently had some problems in paying attention to the songs, IMHO.

This article comes from the Jan. 20,1979 issue of New Musical Express
reformatted by roryfan with an assist by Aiden Ratcliffe
the background is a photo by Rob Hall from the article, mutated by roryfan
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