Gary Moore's Last Stand

(Gibson) The career-ranging set that Gibson Les Paul legend Gary Moore played at Montreux last year now seems like a musical epitaph. The song list touches on all aspects of his virtuosity: the stone blues of "Walking By Myself," the Celtic hard-rock mastery of "Over the Hills and Far Away," the pure tectonic shred of "Out in the Fields," the Pink Floyd-like textural mastery of "So Far Away/Empty Rooms" writ as a 12-minute odyssey and a closing 11-minute version of his pop-fusion breakthrough "Parisienne Walkways" a song that is arguably the zenith of his compositional artistry and lush tonal powers.

More important, the performance caught on the new CD and DVD releases Gary Moore Live at Montreux 2010 found Moore unveiling new material for an album he was writing at the time. The new tune "Where are You Now" is a moving tribute to his late collaborator and childhood friend Phil Lynott that builds to an arcing-but-stately guitar solo that's a sonic six-string summary of his respect for the Thin Lizzy frontman. The ripping "Oh Wild One" also seems to be about Lynott as it recounts their Dublin teenage years and dives back into Moore's signature Celtic rock attack with Moore playing one of his Les Paul Standard sunbursts and his keyboardist Neil Carter stepping to the stage front to play rhythm on a Gibson Les Paul Custom. "Days of Heroes" is yet another Celtic rocker, with Moore looking back once again. And best of all, the set captures his playing and singing in absolute peak form.

After Moore's unexpected death on February 6, 2011, this just-released live album gives his fans another opportunity to look back and reflect. Examining the "three T's" tone, taste and technique it's obvious Moore was worthy of the same credibility as his fellow British Isles Gibson Les Paul legends Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, to say nothing of his idol Peter Green. American sonic rock guitar wizard Reeves Gabrels, a huge Moore fan, suggests that Moore's Belfast ancestry swept him into the long-running complexities between the English and the Irish. He was also roughly 10 years younger than Clapton, Page and Beck, and may have simply missed an opportunity with the change of the times. At any rate, hearing Moore bend the strings of his Les Paul especially the famed Holy Grail 1959 Standard sunburst he acquired from Green and played for more than three decades through a Marshall amplifier opened wide still is, at least on recordings, a spiritual experience for any guitarist or fan with a love for larger-than-life instrumental voices.

In addition to the new CD and the five-CD Essential Montreux box set released in 2009 that spans performances from 1990 to 2001, Moore cut roughly 30 solo albums starting with 1973's Grinding Stone in a career that ran from blues to hard rock to metal to fusion and back to blues again. His studio and live performances in the rock and fusion bands Thin Lizzy, the original Skid Row and Colosseum II, and with drummer Ginger Baker and Gibson EB3 bass giant Jack Bruce in BBM, are all distinguished by a playing style both free-ranging and disciplined. more on this story

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