Yes folks that isn’t a bad line up is it? The man who has been described as the “best Bluesbreaker ever” supporting the perennial Mr Moore.
Firstly let me again explain Folkestone Leas Cliff as a venue. It is right on the top of the cliff in Folkestone, on a clear day you can see France from the top of it. If you approach on the road the only sign of it is a little glass café, but you descend down the cliff as it were into an old (Victorian I think) dance hall which is small and the layout is wrong for modern gigs really, i.e. the stage is on the long side not the short side of the floor plan. Still it is a favourite venue of mine given it’s size etc. Plus supporting gigs outside the standard metropolises can only be a good thing can’t it? Folkestone continues to host really top acts, I’ve seen Gary Moore several times there, Motörhead similarly, Sepultura, David Gray, Turin Brakes, The Hoosiers (that was for my daughter), Megadeth even have played there – now that was a gig!
Quickly about Mr Whittington. I’ve seen him in the Bluesbreakers a few times in recent years, when they used to tour with Peter Green’s Splinter Group (their demise is still sadly lamented by me). I thought him frankly much better in this simple trio format with him taking the vocal responsibility and with free reign on his solos. Very very good. Peter Stroud (ex. Peter Green’s Splinter Group) was present on fretless bass and he is a top player as well. Buddy stuck with a vintage looking Strat (’57 model I’d venture) through a Dr Z combo, excellent Texas blues tone throughout.
Mr Moore then took to the stage for the main act. Gary now plays fronting a four piece of drums, bass and keys, mostly Hammond Organ. It’s a format that suits him down to the ground. The majority of the set came off the last two releases, Bad for You Baby and Close as You Get. Now whilst Gary is very rooted in his blues traditions these days on both these CDs he has stretched in different directions a bit, i.e. a lot of use of a Telecaster not just his trademark Gibson tone, some acoustic (no “unplugged” section live though) and most recently more slide playing. His slide abilities were excellently exemplified on his rendition of Mojo Boogie from the new album. Probably half the set saw Gary ripping it up with a Telecaster – different tone, even some country style fast runs in places, but still very much Gary in style and trademark tone.
So the highlights for me were – I Love you more than you’ll ever know off the new album was utterly stunning and mesmerising. Highlight of the whole gig for me. The second and final encore which started with Gary with a quiet and clean Les Paul playing a Spanish sort of influenced jazzy/flamenco improvisation (well that’s how it sounded to me). Don’t forget Gary is a master of many styles from Jazz Rock in his early days, through metal etc. Anyway the improv was a scene setter to make you think you were wandering the streets of Paris for the stunning show closer Parisian Walkways – which was as ever brilliant.
Brilliant show – maybe a few of the older blues classics would have been good but he played Walking By Myself, All Your Love (one of my favs, and I luckily met Otis Rush in Buddy Guys club in Chicago years ago and played a frame of pool with him), Too Tired was a great version with Gary on Tele as no doubt a tribute to the late Mr Collins. Anyway I think it good an artist stands by their recent output like Gary does too, and he should be proud of the latest and if this first night was anything to go by this tour should be something to be proud of too.
For the guitar buffs… Gary used the following, a vintage style blond Tele with black scratchplate but a rosewood fingerboard so not a straight ’52 reissue. At least three Les Pauls, a custom shop ’59 with a stunning maple cap, another ’59 reissue which I think may be the one with the Bare Knuckles Peter Green pickup set in as that was the Parisian Walkways guitar. A beautiful ’57 reissue gold top for “I Love You More…” (I love gold tops!) and finally a Les Paul BFG for the slide number – not one of the recently release Gary Moore signature BFGs but an older stock red model. Amp wise, looked like an old style (might have been genuine vintage) 50w head and a JCM800 both through single 4x12 cabs, the vintage looking ones. Only issue sound wise is that Gary has his amps very close to him on stage rather than as a true “backline” the tele was inclined to really squeal due to the volume and proximity, Gary controlled it brilliantly with judicious vol control adjustments throughout the songs but it did just intrude a bit and a couple of times as he walked across the stage even the Les Pauls squealed like crazy but I think that is more to do with the on stage volume he uses to get his tone than anything else.
Top night – see here for tour dates and if you can get out and see a legend on top form.