Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour ’74 Deluxe Review

The chemistry with the audience comes across brilliantly, even if the sound on the Belfast and Dublin shows are a bit dodgy. This genius was taken from us...


Format: Boxset (7 CD + 1 DVD)

Label: Sony Music / Legacy Recordings

Release: 20 October 2014


Disc 1 & 2
Cork (5th of January 1974)
1. Messin’ With The Kid*
2. Cradle Rock
3. I Wonder Who
4. Tattoo’d Lady
5. Walk On Hot Coals
6. Laundromat*
7. A Million Miles Away
8. Hands Off*
9. Too Much Alcohol
10. As The Crow Flies
11. Pistol Slapper Blues*
12. Unmilitary Two-Step*
13. Bankers Blues*
14. Going To My Hometown*
15. Who’s That Coming
16. In Your Town*

Disc 3 & 4
Dublin (2nd of January 1974)
1. Cradle Rock*
2. Tattoo’d Lady*
3. Hands Off*
4. Walk On Hot Coals*
5. Laundromat*
6. Too Much Alcohol*
7. A Million Miles Away*
8. As The Crow Flies*
9. Pistol Slapper Blues*
10. Bankers Blues*
11. Unmilitary Two-Step*
12. Going To My Hometown*
13. In Your Town*
14. Bullfrog Blues*

Disc 5 & 6
Belfast (29th of December 1973)
1. Messin’ With The Kid*
2. Cradle Rock*
3. I Wonder Who*
4. Tattoo’d Lady*
5. Walk On Hot Coals*
6. Hands Off*
7. A Million Miles Away*
8. Laundromat*
9. As The Crow Flies*
10. Pistol Slapper Blues*
11. Unmilitary Two-Step*
12. Bankers Blues*
13. Going To My Hometown*
14. Who’s That Coming*
15. In Your Town*
16. Bullfrog Blues*

Disc 7
City Hall in Session (3rd of January 1974)
1. Maritime (The Edgar Lustgarden Cut)
2. I Want You / Raunchy Medley*
3. Treat Her Right
4. I Wonder Who*
5. Too Much Alcohol*
6. Just A Little Bit
7. I Can’t Be Satisfied*
8. Acoustic Medley*
9. Back On My Stompin’ Ground (After Hours)
10. Stompin’ Ground (Alt version)

Disc 8 (DVD)
The Tony Palmer directed documentary Irish Tour ’74
(courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment)

* Previously unreleased


Growing up, I was lucky to be blessed with two older brothers who both had impeccable taste in rock music. Rory Gallagher’s classic live albums, Live in Europe, Stagestruck and Live in Montreux, were a mainstay in the Boyle household. But when the big beautiful gatefold of Irish Tour 74 joined the party, it left those albums in the shade. The Ballyshannon natives’ performance on that memorable night in Cork City Hall went on to become a gold plated classic.

Now, celebrating it’s 40th birthday, it’s been beautifully re-packaged into an eight disc, ten inch boxset, featuring no less than 43 previously unheard live recordings. As well as the Cork show, gigs in Dublin’s Carlton cinema and an emotional night in Belfast’s Ulster Hall are spread over six discs.

Discs 1 & 2 are the 16 track Cork show. And in truth, it still sounds as wonderful as the original pressing. Right from opener, Messin With The Kid, the concert just flows. A brilliant treble of Tattoo’d Lady, Walk On Hot Coals and the psychedelic Laundromat, still maintain their gritty edge. The slide fest on Who’s That Coming, and the mouth watering ivory tickling from Lou Martin are a revelation. But the highlight for me is the southern drawl of Pistol Slapper Blues, Rorys’ exquisite acoustic fretwork combined with those cutting lyrics are a joy.

Discs 3 & 4 are the 14 track Dublin gig. Recorded on the northside of the city, in the Carlton cinema. It has more or less the same setlist as Cork. This time Cradle Rock opens the night, it’s teasing funk blues rhythm are a Gallagher tour de force. Although the sound is of a much lower quality, this only adds to the magic. More acoustic wizardry on Unmilitary Two Step, then the thumping Going To My Hometown, sets up a thrilling finish with a near 20 minute rendition of In Your Town. Gallagher goes out with a bang with the insane 12 bar boogie of Bullfrog Blues.

Discs 5 & 6 are the moving Belfast gig. Recorded in the Ulster Hall on December 29th 1973, the day after a spate of bombings in the troubled city. Although warned against performing, Gallaghers’ defiance, and his love for the city made this show memorable with every single chord. And the fact that bassist Gerry McAvoy and pianist Lou Martin were both from the city, made the gig a certainty. While the majority of artists ignored the city during this time, Rory understood that these peoples spirits were at breaking point.

I see no reason for not playing Belfast, kids still live here, he famously said. And to this day, that has never been forgotten. For a little while, the crowd forgot what was happening beyond those four walls. Borders and religion didn’t matter. Bankers Blues, Hands Off and As The Crow Flies, are played with honesty and intensity. And that vibe is given straight back by the adoring audience.

Disc 7 is a nifty little bonus for fans. A 10 track jam session, recorded on the afternoon of the Cork show. Uncovered by his nephew Daniel Gallagher, a guitarist in his own right, it features many tracks not performed in the main set, including, Back On My Stompin’ Ground, Treat Her Right and I Can’t Be Satisfied. But it’s the Muddy Water classic, I Wonder Who, that really stands out. Even in off stage mode, Gallagher’s performance’s are equally outstanding .

Disc 8 is Tony Palmers’ compelling fly on the wall film of the tour. Entirely shot with a single camera, the reluctant legend is filmed on and off stage in various locations around Dublin, Cork and Belfast. And it’s the Belfast footage that leaves the biggest mark. While performing,
Going To My Hometown, the live concert switches to footage of British army trucks patrolling the war torn streets. A stark and painful reminder of that time, but once again shows his love for the city, whatever the situation. While each show has near enough the same setlist, the songs are delivered with a completely different intensity each night. Gallagher’s paint-stripped Fender takes on a different persona on each gig. The chemistry with the audience comes across brilliantly, even if the sound on the Belfast and Dublin shows are a bit dodgy. This genius was taken from us at the tender age of 47, his passing has left a massive hole in the world of blues and rock. World renowned artists such as Slash and Joe Bonamassa continually champion his name, and cite him as a chief influence in their respective careers. So if you’re discovering Rory Gallagher for the first time, this priceless collection will give you the perfect introduction to this shy and unassuming guitar god. Get your orders to the North Pole……and quick..


Written by Brian Boyle

Ratings    Brian    10/10

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