Gary Moore finally throws his long-time fans a bone, by temporarily returning to his 1980’s hard-rock roots. Moore had essentially sworn off hard rock over the last decade in favor of the blues-rock hybrid he has concentrated on since the release of Still Got The Blues in 1990. In 2002, Moore released Scars, a much more rock-oriented album, than his previous few blues releases, so he probably figured, what better place to showcase some new rock tunes than opening for Whitesnake on the Monsters Of Rock tour.
Live At Monsters Of Rock features Moore, accompanied by bassist Cass Lewis, and drummer Darrin Mooney, who both also performed on the Scars album, tearing through a one-hour set at the 2003 Monsters Of Rock concert in Sheffield, England. Although I much prefer Moore‘s blues material over his hard rock stuff, this show has a little bit for everyone. Moore starts things off with the Yardbirds classic, "Shapes Of Things", which he originally covered on his 1983 Victims of the Future album. Moore‘s beefed-up version is almost unrecognizable from the original, but the song maintains the same appeal. The only thing that keeps it from being a classic, for me, is Moore‘s terrible vocals. The thing that puzzles me though, is how I actually enjoy his vocals when he sings the blues – they just seem to fit that style much better – but I literally cringe when he opens his mouth during the rock songs.
Moore follows with another great cover song, Free‘s "Wishing Well", which he originally covered on his 1982 album Corridors of Power. This was more faithful to the original, but it sure could have used the voice of Paul Rogers. Next, they break out three songs from the Scars album, leading off with "Rectify", a metal-blues assault that is one of the highlights of the album. "Stand Up" showcases the exceptional bass playing of Lewis, as he maintains a monster deep groove throughout the song. "Just Can’t Let You Go" is a pretty forgettable ballad, which should have been skipped to make room for much superior songs off Scars, such as "Stand Up" or "Ball And Chain". There always has to be the requisite ballad though, I suppose.
Moore eventually gives the crowd a heavy dose of the blues when he launches into "Walking By Myself", the Jimmy Rodgers‘ song he covered on his 1990 album Still Got the Blues. This version is considerably heavier than the album version as Moore replaces the missing harmonica accompaniment with an extra heavy dose of distortion, making it a much better fit for this show. The show ends in force with three great songs that Moore collaborated on with the late, great Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Moore updates "Don’t Believe A Word", originally a Thin Lizzy song, and later covered on his 1979 solo album Back on the Streets, with a soulful, melodic turn during the first couple of verses, before eventually cranking up the volume and tearing into the familiar heavy riffs of the original. Moore ended the set with a blazing version of "Out In the Fields" a song he co-wrote with Lynott for his 1985 Run For Cover album.
Moore gave the crowd one more song with the tour-de-force encore of “Parisienne Walkways" – a fitting tribute to the song’s original vocalist, Phil Lynott, which he sang on Moore‘s 1979 album Back on the Streets. Moore pours his heart and soul into the performance making it by far the best song of the night. If you want to know why most guitar fans consider Moore to be one of the top-twenty guitarists of all time, just watch this devastating performance and you’ll see why. And if you were impressed by this performance, it gets even better on his Montreux Jazz Festival performance of 1997, which is included as a bonus feature on his fantastic Live At Montreux 1990 DVD.
The overall production of this DVD is very respectable, but hardly spectacular. The Dolby 5.1 surround track had Moore‘s vocals mixed too loud in the center channel, and the instruments were not as crisp as they should be. Although a widescreen presentation captures the large stage quite nicely, the image was not very sharp, and there were the occasional blurry shots. The camera work was very good, providing some nice close-ups of Moore‘s dazzling fretwork, but the angle changes came a little too quick at times. The bonus features included about 14 minutes of soundcheck footage featuring full performances of "Shapes Of Things" and "Don’t Believe A Word", and also included a 15 minute interview with Moore.
This is an essential addition to anyone’s "guitar god" section of their DVD collection, but it is no match for the much more impressive Live At Montreux 1990 DVD, which brilliantly captured a two hour show, featuring Moore in his prime, backed by an incredible seven-person band. Get that one first, then get Live At Monsters of Rock – you’ll be glad you did.
Shapes of Things
Just Can’t Let You Go
Walking by Myself
Don’t Believe a Word
Out in the Fields
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