The inevitability of Rory Gallagher’s success in the U.S. (after half a decade of stardom in the UK) owes as much to the current state of blues rock as it does to the rules of Darwin. Gallagher has always been one of the finest – an exciting guitarist with seemingly absolute command of his instrument. He is also a real survivor; coming from the British blues wave spearheaded by Cream.
Gallagher didn’t make it to the U.S. until 1971 and he is still a relatively new face. Watching him perform to a boisterous, sold-out house was like entering a time warp. Although an older fan might have waxed nostalgic as Gallagher paused midway through his energetic set to play a few acoustic songs on an old National steel guitar, to the young following in the club, Gallagher’s music was something different, possibly as close to the roots as they may ever get.
Which, of course, is not to take anything away from Gallagher. Although the audience was primed for boogie (and it got more than it needed in the final number, the blistering “Souped-Up Ford”), he tossed in Muddy Waters’ “Where’s My Baby Gone” and even did a guitar rag, “Pistol Slapper Blues.”
Gallagher is a decidedly non-showy performer- no posing or one-handed antics. He lets his guitar playing do the impressing, which it certainly does. He rocks (“Let Me In”), he thinks (“Ain’t Too Good”), but the base is the blues. As an endangered species, the blues needs as many Rory Gallaghers as it can find.