It takes a bold filmmaker to spend close to two minutes of a fret-defying guitar solo focused not on the musician’s dextrous fingers but on his face; eyes closed as if dreaming of better worlds, drops of sweat falling from the tip of his nose. But this is documentary pioneer Tony Palmer, a man whose extraordinary body of work is rich in such away-from-the-norm imagery, whose camera has constantly sought out a more esoteric view.
Gallagher was a legend in his native Ireland, but never achieved the widespread international acclaim that his talent deserved. Palmer takes as read the notion of the guitarist as a master of his instrument, and instead delivers a more intimate and personal portrait of the man. The concert footage is captivating, Rory all but falling into a trance on As The Crow Flies, Walk On Hot Coals and Going To My Home Town, while the verité sequences, both backstage and while travelling, show a jobbing muso unspoiled by superstar trappings.
Where Palmer especially excels is in identifying the connection between the artist and his audience, Gallagher taking on the mantle of role model for thousands of aspiring young musicians or just fans eager to emulate his innate strength of character. As a director, he’s never in-yer-face, but always finds the quickest route to your soul.