Raw Gallagher at The Rayners Hotel, Harrow 28/6/02

There are three kinds of tribute bands, the fun bands, the chancers and the players. And it is with great delight that we can add Raw Gallagher alongside The Muffin Men (Zappa); Viva Santana (obvious) Regenesis (also obvious); The Danny Steel Orchestra (Steely Dan) Perfect Alibi (Floyd) and The Rollin Stoned (who qualify as both fun and players) as a quality band who keep the music of their heroes alive by playing the back catalogue music superbly.

In the case of Rory Gallagher, apart from a check shirt, the trademark of the band was music no more, no less. Where Raw Gallagher impress is they strip the music down to the basics, and play it as it was. Rory was always in his element filling out his songs with new licks, given colour by a visceral emotive tone, and played over a rock solid rhythm section. Raw Gallagher offer all these elements, plus an intuitive understanding of Rory's back catalogue reaching as far back as his Taste days.

At their Rayners debut it didn't take long for the band to win over their audience. Guitarist Steve White is a fine player who strikes the perfect balance between vibrant technique and an understated style that always tantalises in respect of offering glimpses of more to come with fine runs, a great use of dynamics and as I said a fine tone.

Raw G played two longish sets, and provided several exiting moments when the spirit of Rory was conjured up full blown in front of the appreciative crowd. "Shadow Play" was excellent, as was Steve's growling vocals on "Walk On Hot Coals". Steve proved to be equally adept on acoustic as well as electric guitar, giving full reign to the old mid show favourite "Out On The Western Plain".

By the time of a storming second set, the crowd were shouting for their favourites, but even they appeared stunned as the band cruised towards the 150 minute mark with a stonking version of "Continental Op" The set concluded with a brace of well deserved encores, and you were left agreeing with the MC who noted that "when all is said and done, without this kind of band, given the current state of radio, you'd hardly hear classic rock blues like this at all". Hear here!

Pete Feenstra - Soundcheck magazine