I met Gary Moore briefly in Australia in October, 1978. The Manhattan Transfer was doing a long engagement at the ballroom of the Sydney Hilton, and Thin Lizzy hit town to do a big outdoor concert at the Sydney Opera House. Back in L.A., I'd heard the first riffs of "The Boys Are Back in Town" roaring out of the radio speakers of my '65 Mustang, pulled over to the curb to listen, and then driven straight to the record store (remember them?) to buy the album (remember them?). So I was already a fan. The energy of that track was tremendous.
Lizzy and the Transfer had crossed paths in a TV studio somewhere at some point, without making much of a connection, but when it happened again in Sydney, an invitation to the concert was proffered. The Transfer was off that night, so I was happy to put on my rock & roll shoes and enjoy the show.
Lizzy, live, was a blast. Phil Lynott had a cool charisma, Scott Gorham and Gary Moore wove serpentine double guitar leads, the drummer, Mark Nauseef (subbing for Brian Downey), was great. The band would build a tune to a reckless peak, then yank the volume down, keeping the intensity, and rumble and growl till another build. I have always loved that push and pull, whether it shows up in the Basie Band or Little Feat. Power, restrained.
Moore was so young, racing around the stage, leaping, playing to the crowds, and he had a singing, muscular tone on his pretty Les Paul. As he aged, he just played better – that's what good musicians do – and his tone grew ever more rich.
Our paths did not cross again. The Transfer wasn't long back in L.A. before I fell asleep driving that Mustang. Everything changed.
But everything always changes, for everyone – Thin Lizzy disbanded in 1983, Lynott died in 1986. The other musicians I saw on the stage that day carried on in the business, sometimes working together. Moore established himself solidly as a solo artist, continuing to rock through good times and bad until this past weekend, when he died while on vacation in Spain. We were only just beginning to know him as an elder. The last chorus came unexpectedly, and there's a sadness on me about that.