Gary Moore 1952 – 2011
Readers of Live on 35mm know I am a fan of blues. I don’t know where it comes from, probably I was harvesting cotton in Louisiana in a previous life, but blue notes hit some nerves that no other music does.
Blues isn’t cool to the alternative/indie rock tribe which mainly read these pages. True, the White Stripes (RIP too) and the Black Keys tried to bring a bit of Blues in the Pitchfork-sphere but overall, since the seventies, “to dislike the blues” is what put together musicians that would never sit at the same table.
Prog, Punk, New Wave, Hip-Hop, Electronica and most of indie-rock artists rarely love each other but all of them agree on not considering blues as a main inspiration.
The only bit of blues to be accepted in the “How cool I am world” needs to be remote, recorded in a front porch, possibly acoustic and obviously lo-fi.
The musician had to starve his entire life before being discovered, by an independent label of course, possibly three weeks before his death.
Anything that is on the Eric Clapton side is archived together with Genesis, Mark Knopfler, Rod Stewart, Jethro Tull, Carlos Santana and Yes in the depreciative “Dad rock” folder… actually nowadays, genre.
I don’t really mind about being cool, I am far from being an East London hipster researching odd alt.folk guys hidden in Brooklyn’s basements.
I am a blues orthodox too. If I have to choose I am for the blues of the origin, American blues, rural, delta and early Chicago blues. I am not a fan of the Blues revival of the sixties and rock blues of the seventies despite it was those musicians who brought blues and bluesmen to Europe.
I hate polished blues records recorded in Knightsbridge. I consider Eric Clapton album of Robert Johnson covers the worst album ever recorded, not only for the music played but conceptually for the way he mistreats history. It is not all like that.
I have been listening to the blues since my teen days. My iPod is plenty of blues records and Live on 35mm started with David “Honeyboy” Edward, as a statement not a coincidence. There are Buddy Guy and Johnny Winter among the artists, too.
My approach to blues nowadays is a love & hate thing, though.
Some periods I can’t listen to anything else. I remember throughout 2007 have not bought any other music but acoustic delta blues CDs from obscure Mississippi labels.
Then blues steps back, stands on a side, stays quiet, and let other music to enter my brain.
2007 was also the year I saw Gary Moore. Sadly I now know it was my last time.
The first was in September 2001 I remember because his show was also my first concert in UK since I arrived in the country, few hours before. Both times he didn’t play the concert I hoped.
Gary Moore hasn’t been a musician constantly on high levels, he is not a genius guitarist yet he built up some credentials. He played in all sorts of bands, from the hard-rockers Thin Lizzy to Skid Row, he recorded in any genre from heavy Metal to Acoustic Blues and, let’s put it clear, he hasn’t delivered only masterpieces but some horrible music.
I have never been a fan of the rock guitarist, few are the Moore riffs there to remember, he did better with solos, another of those to-avoid-at-any-cost things. There are many guitar player in rock to be considered before him, however the times “he got the blues”, Gary Moore has been an inspiring blues guitarist.
My passion for Gary Moore goes back in the 90s, when Blues Alive joined my CD collection. It is a hell of a live rock-blues album the concert that I hoped to see but I never did. Listen to the opening Cold Day in Hell and be swept away by the hour and more of electric blues filled with some R&B sax taster.
I agree it is plenty of “Gary Moore clichés”, clichés that keep him out of the “cool crew” of blues musicians. The sustained note on Parisienne Walkaway is a classic, borrowed from Carlos Santana, and the same (but inverted) note progression on Still Got The Blues brings to an amazing solo.
I don’t want to go into a debate about his style, we won’t go anywhere, I just wanted to put these pictures on to remember a musician who did everything he wanted, didn’t ever compromise recorded tenths of album some containing some damn good guitar playing.
He his universally recognised for his Gibson guitar, that he betrayed rarely as in this recent cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Red House.
More, Gary Moore was invited to play by some blues legends.
He is younger than those of the Blues revival, he is not Keith Richard, Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck. But he was there, one of the few of his generation, side by side to the greatest blues guitarists ever.
The two blues Kings. Albert King and Gary Moore played together on multiple occasions. Albert was a genuine fan.
Here there is a “stormy” version of Stormy Monday played together with which helps you understanding why.
And this is B.B. King playing with Gary Moore a breathtaking live version of The Thrill is Gone. At some point during the song the guitars’ duet becomes an intimate dialogue between friends.
…and now that his thrill is really gone… Rest in Peace, Gary.
I managed to secure a Gary Moore photopass. It was not an easy one. So I had to use some tricks. Gary Moore didn’t like photographers, when I asked for a photopass someone from his entourage replied:
I wanted to photograph him and didn’t give up just yet.
Support act of that tour was Otis Taylor, I tried to get access to his pit and then asked Taylor if it was possible to shoot Moore too.
Otis is a very nice person and he managed the issue himself to help me
From here I got a message from someone I haven’t talked before saying
Incredule I asked for a confirmation, never a bad thing to do
From where I was finally in
Which is why you have the opportunity to see these pics.
Which is why I believe that concert photography is a passion. Passion in the sense that you don’t only have to love taking music photographs, that is 10 minutes out of several time spent on sorting the photopass.
Passion because you need to insist, politely, push, kindly, struggle nicely, to get what you want.
It does not always works but what I learnt is that it is not true there are not photopass available. There is always a chance. The better you are, the more convincing you are, the kinder, the more open minded, optimistic person you are more are the chances to get through your favourite artists.
I am sure Gary Moore is not regretting he let me enter his pit now.
This is my favourite picture of him.