The Montreux Jazz Festival beginnings go back almost forty years. A high caliber of artists have grace Montreux's stages. Thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, we are able to see these musicians in DVD format. The camera work is good. The sound is decent: A perfect snapshot in time of people at their musical zenith.
Making stops five times across a twenty year period was Irish blues rocker Rory Gallagher. The band configurations were always changing save bassist Gerry McAvoy who remained with Rory up until the early nineties. Whatever rhythm section it was, the power always ignited Rory in giving explosive performances.
All of that you will see in Rory Gallagher Live At Montreux. Gallagher's schizophrenic personality pulled him in many directions. You'll see him as the traditional blues man covering obscure acoustic chestnuts ("Pistol Slapper Blues," "Banker Blues," and "Too Much Alcohol") and being the maniac rocker ("Laundromat and "Shadowplay").
This double dvd set has everything you love about Rory. Disc 1 touches a musical dash between 1975 and 1985 that captured Gallagher in rockin spastic glory. His showmanship offered Chuck Berry duckwalks, leaps into the air, Pete Townshend windmills and toweling his guitar as it laid on stage in feedback drones.
Disc 2 is Gallagher's entire 1994 performance. At the age of 47 (he would die at 48 a year later), he was fuller faced and a few pounds heavier. Unlike past performances that consisted of rowdy crowds feeding off Rory's electricity, 1994's audience stood still and strongly clapped. Whether this was maturity or shock at seeing Rory in a bit of a bloated state is hard to tell. Even his stage persona was restrained. There were no duckwalks, no windmills and spastic musical contortions.
What little energy Rory had just channeled into his road beaten Fender and metal slide. With a cry out of "let's go to work!," he tears into "Continental Op" and sets the stage for his rock and blues extrapolations. Banjo player Bela Fleck is brought out for the acoustic medley of "Amazing Grace," "Walking Blues," and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Promoter Claude Nobs himself gets in on the action as he attempts some harp in encore "I'm Ready."
Sadly this was Rory's last appearance at Montreux. His death on June 14, 1995 robbed the world of a musical genius whose presence would be warmly welcomed in our blues world today. These Montreux performances are the perfect insurance that a legacy lives. If you have his Irish Tour 74 dvd, you'll forget about that puppy in a flash. This package will prove to be the best investment for Gallagher fans needing an instant blues rock fix.