Never did I think I would get the chance to review a new album from one of my favourite performers, my idols, but here I am with the new GARY MOORE live album in front of me. Wow. Words cannot express my excitement as I press play that first time.
Since his untimely death 6th February 2011, the world has mourned the loss of one of the greatest guitarists ever known. Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Moore played with several local bands, before becoming part of the Irish blues rock band Skid Row (not the American metal band from the 80s) and later Thin Lizzy. He also had a successful solo career with eleven UK Top 40 single releases.
‘Live From London’ was recorded shortly before his death at London’s Islington Academy on December 2nd, 2009 and was released 31st January this year.
‘OH PRETTY WOMAN’ is a rip-roaring start to the album, a cover of an Albert King song, with fuzzy riffs and a belting solo which had me reaching for my air guitar. Even though he’s more renowned for his guitar skills, Moore has a bluesy, soulful voice which gives me tremors to this day.
The rumbling groove of ‘BAD FOR YOU BABY’ is 50s rock n roll reminiscent, and ‘DOWN THE LANE’ from the same time period shows a ho’ down country rock influence, high octane with blistering fingerwork. Personally this isn’t what I love about Gary Moore but the energy and style is fantastic.
I’m often dubious about live albums, I tend to buy them only to reminisce on a tour I went to or for someone who I will never get the chance to see perform live. In this case it’s the latter, sadly, and the album gives a great snapshot of that night in London. ‘SINCE I MET YOU BABY’ features a sexy, almost growling vocal teemed with first rate musicianship and delivered with passion and panache. The 10 minute banger ‘HAVE YOU HEARD’ has sultry and emotive vocals and chords that pierce your soul. The organ adds tension and atmosphere and this is true vintage blues rock in which Moore makes his Les Paul wail in a way no other has quite achieved. ‘ALL YOUR LOVE’ is what I like to call “bedroom blues”, an incredibly soulful and emotional lament on love with melodic vocals.
I adore ‘MOJO BOOGIE’, the crowd sing along – the true joy of a live album – and Moore’s slide guitar screams in ecstasy. Similarly, ‘I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW’ captures my heart, exquisitely intricate guitar work where pure emotion flows, beautifully mournful and heart-wrenching. This track is a piece of art in its own right, a remarkable take on a Donny Hathaway track, as Moore wrings every ounce of life out of his instrument. The emotion is intense – I cried buckets in the last minute – and it’s truly awe-inspiring.
‘TOO TIRED’ beings the energy back up, a joyous romp and stunning solo which segues into GARY’S BLUES 1, but the show stopper for me (and doubtless many more) is ‘STILL GOT THE BLUES’. This is another emotional journey for me as this is the song that made me sit up and take notice of Mr Moore many years ago and is a personal favourite for that reason alone, as well as being an iconic track. Rugged, passionate vocals soar over a gentle melody, punctuated by breathtaking guitar solos, with a hook which is instantly recognisable, and my breath catches in my throat several times. It’s a real pleasure to listen to this level of talent and the first listen takes me a moment to recover myself.
The Jimmy Rogers track ‘WALKING BY MYSELF’ raises the roof and Milton Campbell’s ‘THE BLUES IS ALRIGHT’ seems biographical, as though it was written for Moore.
Recognisable to all, the wailing guitars of ‘PARISIENNE WALKWAYS’ remain unparalleled, Moore a genius virtuoso who pours everything into the guitar. And that extended note! Classy, emotional and simply stunning. There is only one Gary Moore. His fingers are aflame as he tears through my heart with every chord; it’s impossible not to feel the music and be moved by it.
The familiar sound of Gary Moore’s Les Paul is more than welcome almost 10 years after he left us, whether you’re a lifelong fan like myself or wondering what all the fuss is about, you need to get this album and cherish it. The quality of the recording is superb and it sounds as if it was recorded just yesterday.
Overall rating: 5/5
Highlights: Mojo Boogie, I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know, Still Got The Blues
‘Live from London’ is out now via MASCOT LABEL GROUP
For more information on GARY MOORE, visit http://www.gary-moore.com/