• June 29, 2022
 El Barrio del Diablo: Fast Forward to the Music – Rory & Rod

El Barrio del Diablo: Fast Forward to the Music – Rory & Rod

An Irish Lad and a Brit walk into the Coliseum…One evening in 1974 the names on the cow barn marquee read: ROD STEWART & FACES. Opening the show: RORY GALLAGHER.

Rory who? A big question mark came across my face and I do believe the same for the majority of the Coliseum crowd that were there only to see Rodney, the scoundrel of stage and song; the Brit bopper with a howling sandpaper voice.

Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, a town that claims to be the oldest in all of Ireland. It lies in the northwest alongside the River Erne that leads into the Atlantic. Rory picked up guitar while in the third grade and much later at the age of 24, went on to create and lead a blues-rock power trio with a sound that became uniquely his, while also adding recording and touring to his resume.

He owned a 1961 Fender Strat, his ax of choice to perform with. And since he was seven years older than our own Stevie Ray, it was fair to say that Rory soon became the master of the stratocaster. He and his mates were impressive enough to open for Cream’s farewell performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London in November 1968.Rory-Gallagher

At the start of the El Paso show, the first high-octane track of the set left me with my mouth open. “Who is this guy?”, I wondered. His LP, “Tattoo”, was released in November of ’73 and from that collection he also blasted the audience with amazing guitar pyrotechnics in “Cradle Rock”, but then showed his versatility and prowess by changing the set’s vibe entirely with the seven minute anthem “A Million Miles Away” – complete with cool, clean harmonics for aficionados.

It didn’t take long for the audience to warm up to Rory’s music, talent and friendly stage presence, as he acknowledged everyone at the end of a song with a genuine “Thank you very much indeed”.
He returned for his encore amid big applause and cheers and as two guys to my left yelled out,“Bullfrog Blues” several times, I chuckled at the title with no idea what to expect. The audience was blown away…we experienced a six and a half minute rollicking guitar, bass and drums jam that blew the roof off the cow barn.

The next day I bought two of his LP’s, “Live in Europe” and “Tattoo”, and I became a fan for life.

Life sized memorial statue in Ballyshannon. The anniversary of Rory Gallagher’s passing is June 14. He was 47
Life sized memorial statue in Ballyshannon.
The anniversary of Rory Gallagher’s passing is June 14. He was 47

Guitarist Brian May of Queen put it this way: “Rory interacted with his audience….he was a magician and an entertainer. And his playing was incredible, he was one of the very few at that time who could make his guitar do anything; it seemed to be magic. I remember looking at his battered stratocaster thinking how does that come out of there? How does he do that?”

The annual Rory Gallagher Music Festival was held in Ballyshannon earlier this month on June 2,3,4.

Unfortunately for many of us that sat very close to the stage, a noticeably drunk and disinterested Rod Stewart rambled through a short set that night. I soon lost interest in his stage presence and focused on watching Ron Wood’s guitar work.

I believe the band started with “Miss Judy’s Farm”, but if there was a highlight of the evening for me, it was definitely “Stay With Me”.

Rodney made it clear that no encore was in order by announcing to the audience, “This is the last song”, which turned out to be “Twistin the night away”. It wasn’t an electrifying concert, but more of a lackluster dress rehearsal by Rod and the Faces.


Jose Oswaldo RicoDo you recall any rock shows from that era? Leave a comment! I’d like to hear from you.

José Oswaldo Rico, Guest Contributor

Previous  columns HERE

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  • On the eve of my brother’s 22nd anniversary (14th June), it was pleasing to see Rory remembered so fondly in El Paso. On the Rod & Faces / Rory ’72 tour, I was Rory’s tour manager and remember the date and U.S. tour very well.

    Back in Ireland, ever since hearing Marty Robbins song ‘El Paso’ (still a favourite), our ambition was to get out to El Paso and we both loved our visit.
    Donal Gallagher

    • Oh my goodness! Wow. Thank you for stopping by.
      I have never forgotten the passionate and intense performance of Rory that night. Even Rodney said to the crowd in between his set, “Let’s hear it one more time for Rory Gallagher”. And the crowd cheered loudly. Tell me, how did you come across this article?

      Thank you again,
      Jose Rico

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