One sweaty October night in 2007, Gary Moore rocked the London Hippodrome with a set of scorching Jimi Hendrix covers. Eagle Rock Entertainment has issued the performance as Gary Moore: Blues for Jimi, a 74-minute, no frills Blu-ray that focuses squarely on Moore’s intense guitar playing. Though never a household name, Moore (who passed away in 2011 at age 58) was an incredibly talented musician with an impressive discography.
The occasion for this show happened to be the premiere screening of Jimi Hendrix: Live at Monterey, which screened earlier that evening. It was being released on DVD and part of the event involved a live concert performance paying tribute to Hendrix. Joined by bassist Dave Bronze and drummer Darrin Mooney, Moore hit the ground running with “Purple Haze.” The rough, raw, rocking take on the perennial classic set the tone for the rest of the show. No pussyfooting around these Hendrix evergreens, Moore and company seemed intent on channeling the late legend himself.
In a very exciting turn of events, two members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience accompany Moore on a trio of tunes. The late Mitch Mitchell (who would pass away just over a year later at age 61) takes over at the drum kit, while Billy Cox handles bass and vocals. They begin with a positively smoking version of “Red House.” After settling down a bit for “Hey Joe,” they storm through a rousing rendition of “Stone Free.”
As for Moore’s vocals, he’s not in the finest voice of his career but his energy and obvious adoration for the material carry him through just fine. Though not as historically significant as Mitchell and Cox, Bronze and Mooney are no slouches either. Their primal backing isn’t showy—their objective was to simply lay down a sturdy bedrock for Moore to solo over. It all comes together perfectly, with some truly inspired soloing by Moore. If you want to hear this trio at their most intense, proceed directly to “I Don’t Live Today” and wait for the badass rave-up ending.
Eagle Rock’s 1080i, AVC-encoded Blu-ray presents a relatively strong image. It’s far from reference quality and never especially attractive, but it works fine. Wide shots tend to be a bit soft, but close ups have sufficient detail to convey just how hard Moore was working (i.e. the copious amounts of sweat dripping down his face). The real winner with this high definition presentation is the 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Crank this one up for a truly hardcore blues rock extravaganza. Nothing fancy, just a crystal clear mix of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Audience response is suitably low in the mix, allowing the music to ring out cleanly.
No features of any kind are included on the disc, but James McNair’s essay in the booklet provides some background information about the concert. Gary Moore: Blues for Jimi is a sound investment not only for fans of either Gary Moore or Jimi Hendrix (or both, of course), but for blues rock connoisseurs in general.