Rory Gallagher's 1974 tour of Ireland coincided with one of the most tumultuous times in Belfast. Violence was erupting throughout the city even at rock concerts. As a result, many rock acts refused to play in the city. Nevertheless, Gallagher included a stop in Belfast on the tour and was rewarded with one of his best shows. Director Tony Palmer filmed many of the concerts on the tour and originally planned to use it for a television special, but he later found the footage so good that he released it as a theatrical motion picture. What Eagle Rock has released is that original 1974 rockumentary, complete with a few unearthed extras.
Although limited by the quality of the original source recordings, Irish Tour '74 takes the viewer on a trip to a time when the music really mattered. Even 36 years later, the performances, which are limited in material to only the first few albums, has the blues/rock guitarist at his best. Maybe it was the Irish crowd cheering him on, or maybe it was his will to perform where others wouldn't, you can see the magic in the air and you can feel the chills in a guitar masters work.
Although the quality is fair for a long archived music documentary from 1974, it was probably unnecessary to release it on Blu-Ray. The video presentation did not benefit from a High Definition transfer, but the music and soud transfer was amazing – it felt and sounded like a torn and weary Ireland.
With only nine songs, Irish Tour '74 comes to a close at 123 minutes, making the performance seem like an amazing jam session. There isn't a truely skilled blues/rock guitarist out there that wouldn't stare at Irish Tour '74 in astonishment. I even recall Brian May of Queen wondering where Gallagher got his sound from.
For those unfamiliar with Gallagher, Irish Tour '74 could come across as an old video of an older style of music. But that's wherein lies the magic of Rory Gallagher. People do not play like this anymore. It's all too calculated, computerized and homogenized today. In 1974 Europe, Gallagher was the blues king and watching his band react and play to his performance shows the skill and musicianship it took in those days. With Gallagher's timely death in 1995, his original rock blues combination came to an end. But the handful of recordings, dating all the way to 1990, and now this home video, lives on.