Here's hoping for a Steve Priest solo tour real soon!
Filmed live at the Sheffield Arena on the 2003 Monsters of Rock Tour (which featured, amongst others, Tawny Kitaen's own personal nightmare, Whitesnake), former Skid Row/Thin Lizzy/Colosseum II instrumentalist extraordinaire Gary Moore performs a 60-minute concert that attempts to encompass his near 35 years in the business within standard skimpy opening act parameters. The set list for this trip down barely memorable lane is as follows:
• "Shape of Things": a famous Yardbirds song covered by
Moore on his 1983 album Victims of the Future.
Watching Gary Moore: Live at the Monsters of Rock is a lot like sitting through the hardworking local warm-up act that sheepishly takes the stage before your longtime favorite asskicking mega-superstar headliner has regained consciousness in their dressing room. His set is professional and powerful and his backup band is tight and rhythmic. But you still gaze and glower, waiting for the well-known hit pop song that will get your fist pumping and your toes tapping. Sadly, Moore lacks that, or at least it sounds that way to the complete non-fan who wouldn't know him from Tobin Sprout or Jimmie O'Neil. Moore is that career musician whose name occasionally pops up on "best of" lists of renowned guitarists or "modern magicians" of old time blues, but as for the recognition that comes from popular success, he might as well be Fred Lane. Onstage he is not the most charismatic, call and response rocker on the planet. Indeed, singing seems to be something new to him—or perhaps it is just that his voice is not right for the tunes he is crooning. He is a virtuoso on the axe, but just like wading through endless drum or mellotron solos, too much finger picking histrionics blemishes the harmonious soul. In the end, we are left with a nice enough chap who is trying his damnest to get a rise out of this cold, waiting for Coverdale audience. And the lack of significant crowd shots in this documentary indicates just how successful he is.
This is not to say that Gary Moore: Live at the Monsters of Rock is without its incendiary moments. His rave-up run through of "Out in the Fields" features enough power chord chaos to make even the most sheepish metalhead bang their brain. His whiplash version of Free's "Wishing Well" also thunders with an outrageous authority. But Moore is sometimes out of his element here. For the last few years he has carved out a niche as an exemplary blues man, finding his finesse buried deep inside the classic 16-bar progression. But the times they are-a-changin' and his friendly, forceful crotch rock just can't quite translate to an audience waiting to "break stuff" with Durst or sue Napster with Metallica. Hard rocking music has gone the way of the dinosaur, altruism, and a sense of personal shame in the last few years, but Moore still wants to get out there and amp angry young teens back into puberty. Too bad that this mostly old fart festival throng (the rare stage POV shot shows more bald heads from age than shaving) just want to relive their MTV video vibrations and go home to worry about their 401(k)s. Still, with a simple three piece set up, some classic guitars, and an amazing array of pedals, Moore makes his guitar gently weep, wail like a banshee, and blast like a furnace. He is never boring and always gregarious, but the songs just don't sink in rapidly enough to have you truly enjoying yourself. If anything, Gary Moore: Live at the Monsters of Rock is a testament to the rejuvenating powers of rock and roll. At 52, Moore is still a spry, spunky performer giving all manner of well-rehearsed guitar hero poses. Too bad the audience is waiting for bad imitation hair band Zeppelin.
The DVD of Gary Moore: Live at the Monsters of Rock is a nice, professional package which features the concert video, a spectacular Dolby Digital 5.1/Stereo surround mix, and about thirty minutes of extras, divided among a soundcheck and an interview. The 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen image is excellent with none of the flaring or bleeding you'd expect from a direct to video transfer. This concert is heavy on the early '80s hyperactive jump cut style (the camera never sits on one set up for too long), so the lack of jittering or ghosting is impressive. On the sound side, the Dolby Digital work is fantastic here. In either 5.1 or 2.0, you will feel like you are sitting in amongst the less than enthusiastic multitude as Moore gives it his all. As for the bonuses, they are enlightening and fun. The sound check finds Moore and the band working through a few technical issues as they power up on a couple of featured songs. The interview finds Moore in a reflective mood as he discusses his career, his return to rock after nearly a decade dedicated to the melancholy and his teenage son's musical influence over him. He comes across so personable and friendly that you feel bad when you have to attack his output. But Gary Moore: Live at the Monsters of Rock is nothing stunning. It is journeyman-like and vaguely entertaining, but it's merely the appetizer to what eventually becomes an empty main course. Moore and his fans deserve something better than this digital declaration of bar band status.
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