Back in 2007, the sorely missed Gary Moore released a new album, “Close As You Get” and, to promote it, worked with radio station Planet Rock to give away tickets for an intimate London show at Bush Hall, a picturesque 400-person capacity venue I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many times. The thought of a modern day blues legend such as Gary Moore playing to such an intimate room would be most fans’ dream come true and this live record gives everyone who couldn’t be there a chance to own and experience this unique, electrifying show. While it’s true that “Live At Bush Hall 2007” is light on hits (the majority of the songs performed were on his then latest album) and this album may, on the surface, appeal to more hardcore fans of the Irish guitarist than those who aren’t as familiar with his vast catalogue of work, Gary’s scintillating solos and his sheer passion for the music make this an album that is a rewarding listen for any blues fan.
The breadth of blues on offer during this show (slow, rocking, stripped down, boogie) are like a master-class in blues eclecticism and ably demonstrates his knowledge of how to keep an audience entertained and constantly engaged with the emotionally-charged music. The covers tell the story of Moore’s love for the blues, the original material is the realisation of his artistry. There are many astonishing performances captured on this album; Phil Lynott’s “Don’t Believe A Word” is delivered with tenderness, then a powerful belief, the slow blues of Moore’s own heartbreaking “I Had A Dream” demonstrates just how achingly melodious his solos could be and also how good Gary’s vocals could be and, naturally, his signature composition, “Still Got The Blues” is here in all of its raw devastating glory. Chuck Berry’s rip-roaring “Thirty Days” is enthusiastically belted out, the moody “Hard Times” features a superb solo and the last song of the evening, Son House’s “Sundown” is a particular treat, being an impassioned helping of traditional slide-guitar acoustic blues.
“Live At Bush Hall 2007” is the kind of performance you listen to with quiet envy of the people who were lucky enough to be there; hearing the Moore faithful roaring along to “Walking By Myself” and, tellingly, the absolute silence during the more poignant solos tells you that this was a great crowd and a bit of a special evening for all involved. It also, throughout, reminds you of exactly what the music world lost back in February 2011 and what a mercurial talent he was. For Moore, it wasn’t all about ability. If he wanted, he could have moved up and down the fret board with blistering speed all night, but he had the taste and subtlety to know when to play and when not to play. He knew and loved his art. All of this is apparent when listening to this rather brilliant live performance, which entertains, thrills and moves the listener throughout. As a record of the evening and with live versions of songs that cannot be found anywhere else, this is essential to any devoted fan of Moore, but it is also the kind of live performance that could easily turn people less familiar with Gary’s work into believers.
“Gary Moore Live At Bush Hall 2007” is available now on Eagle Records from all good music retailers. The performance features Gary Moore (guitar), Brian Downey (drums), Pete Rees (bass) and Vic Martin (keyboards).