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Thought lost in a fire, this recently found concert film is the only existing feature about Ireland's
virtuoso rhythm 'n' blues guitarist, Rory Gallagher. Covering sold-out gigs in Belfast, Cork and
Dublin, and premiered at the Cork Film Festival in 1974, Tony Palmer's intimate portrait of "the
people's guitarist" includes fly-on-the-wall stuff and formal interview material, linking nine
songs all performed in Gallagher's wholehearted style.
It was a time of battered guitars, grimy jeans, dingy dressing rooms, dark and seedy venues, and bands that actually tuned their own instruments backstage as, by personal choice, Gallagher stayed about as far away from showbiz glamour as he could get. Witness those sweat-stained lumberjack shirts, bottles of Guinness and makeshift tour gear!
After the instrumental prologue Walk On Hot Coals played over the opening credits, Gallagher and his band crack on with the explosive Tattoo'd Lady, and power blues of Who's That Coming before the comparatively mellow A Million Miles Away, evocatively intercut with 2nd unit touristy location footage. This proto promo-video format is continued with the folk-rocking Going To My Home Town featuring shots of Gallagher on urban walkabout.
Then there's the heavy-as-Hendrix styled Cradle Rock, and a practice session, leading to Gallagher on harmonica and steel-bodied acoustic guitar for As The Crow Flies (written by Tony Joe White). Hands Up outshines the hardest Status Quo riffs in its vocal breaks and, for an encore, Gallagher's on slide guitar for an extended version of the blistering Bullfrog Blues with brief solos by bassist Gerry McAvoy, and drummer Rod de'Ath.
DVD extras: great! There's ten minutes of home movie footage (colour, sound) from a tour of Japan, complete discography, track access in 17 scenes, plus a fine audio commentary by Donal Gallagher (Rory's brother and de facto road manager) with the aforementioned McAvoy. This is a piece of British rock music history.
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