Total Pageviews

Bebop Spoken There

Dave Gelly: “From 1 January 1920, when prohibition was imposed in the US, people didn’t stop drinking, they just stopped drinking legally.” – (Jazz Journal October 2017).

Regina Carter: “When I was a teenager, I would daydream about going out on a date and dancing to Ella’s music.” (Down Beat October 2017).

Today Wednesday November 22

Afternoon
Vieux Carre Jazzmen - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.

Evening
Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. £1. 8pm.

Billy's Acoustic Blues - Billy Bootleggers, 28 Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free (weekly).

The Village Hall New Orleans Band - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Rd., Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:15pm. £3.

BBC Big Band - Middlesbrough Theatre, The Avenue, Middlesbrough TS5 6SA. 01642 815181. 7:30pm. £24.50.

----
To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, November 13, 2017

An Evening with Pat Metheny @ City Hall, Hull. November 11

Pat Metheny – guitars (various); Antonio Sanchez – drums and percussion; Linda May Han Oh – acoustic and electric bass; Gwilym Simcock  - piano and keyboard
(Review by Hugh C)
I was first alerted to this concert by an email from Basho Records informing me that Gwilym Simcock would be performing as part of a world Tour by Pat Metheny.  At the time of booking only three dates were available in the UK – London (EFG Festival), Belfast and Hull – additional dates were added subsequently.  I am a distant Metheny follower (having only two of his CDs), but as my wife was heavily involved in her own artistic endeavour over the weekend, it was an ideal opportunity to both hear the man and visit the UK City of Culture 2017.  A few tickets were left so I ended up with a seat at the front of the balcony.

The City Hall, Kingston-upon-Hull is an Edwardian baroque revival style building in the centre of the city and a fitting “Temple of Culture” in this year, 2017.  The concert was billed as starting at 7.30 pm; when I arrived at 7pm, two orderly queues had already formed stretching out into the adjacent Victoria Square.  Two spaces ahead of me in the queue a local muso chatting to the visitors behind him informed them that the acoustic was terrible, especially in the balcony – good start!  The reason for the queues became apparent on entry to the lobby – a bag check was in operation (sign of the times, I guess).  As I ascended the rather splendid staircase I noted a movable clock that suggested a finish time of 10pm and continued to the balcony to take my seat.  After a short interval, a couple asked to come past, each carrying a couple of plastic glasses – the male carrying a filled beer glass at a jaunty angle that threatened to give those seated in the stalls an unexpected shower!  My new companion then proceeded to inform me that the gig was going to be f***ing brilliant, man.

At 7.30pm there were still many empty seats and over the next 10 minutes or so the hall gradually filled.  Once full, there was a distinct air of anticipation, the house lights dimmed, followed by rapturous applause and we were entreated by an anonymous voice “...given the nature of the performance, not to take photographs, not to record, not to text and to turn our cell phones off”.  After an invitation by the voice to welcome Pat Metheny, the high priest of jazz guitar himself walked onto the stage and sat down on a stool at the front.  A black-clad guitar technician handed him an instrument  with two necks, a chimera – subsequent research suggests this monster was a 42 stringed instrument commissioned by Metheny in 1984, the Manzer Pikasso. 
The auditorium was now so dark I could not see my notes  - subsequent perusal in the hotel bar revealed that many were written over each other and some indecipherable!  The first item was a solo performance by the maestro himself.  At the end of the piece the trusty techician re-chained the monster, and it was not seen again for the remainder of the evening.  The remainder of the band then entered and Metheny then stood with a regular (single-necked) guitar.  I started enumerating the individual musical items in my notes, but soon got lost as one followed another, with no announcements.  There were however present in the hall a significant number of the Metheny Faithful who welcomed each number as they recognised it with a ripple of applause. 
The formula suited my ears, each band member took a solo in turn over the course of the evening, the other band members chipping in as they felt moved.  The muso in the queue was right, the acoustic did leave a lot to be desired – Simcock's piano solos being somewhat lost in the cavernous acoustic of the hall.  After about the 10th item my neighbours, Mr Pisshead and partner had spotted better seats and decided to push past those seated to move to pastures new – much to my relief – no more running commentary.  Item (approximately) 15 was a “free improv” with strange guitar effects and scratchy bowed bass.  Then a brief pause:  Pat Metheny introduced the band, thanked us for coming, thanked Hull for the invitation and informed the house that this was mostly old music they were playing.  At 1 hour 25 minutes in, I was expecting the house lights to be brought up and the band to leave the stage for the interval. 

Pat Metheny then announced that they would, if pressed, keep on playing; the band did leave the stage with the exception of the Mane (I use the word advisedly) Man who then retook his initial seated position at the front of the stage  and proceeded to play solo guitar, lit by a single spot, the reflected light from the guitar's metalwork poetically dancing on the silver hair and shiny pates in the front few rows of the stalls.   The rest of the band then rejoined him – ensemble, solo, ensemble etc.  At 9.50pm the band left the stage.  Thunderous applause ensued, with calls for more, rhythmic clapping and stamping of feet.  Pat Metheny returned on his own for a solo encore; leaving again at the pre-ordained hour of 10pm.  The band re-entered ensemble for the final encore, a solo each – then at 10.15pm it, the audience, thought it was all over – the house lights came up – it was now! 
Two and one half hours' music  - at a ticket price of £25 that works at £10 per hour – not bad I reckon.
Hugh
Postscript: For guitar buffs – I recognised some of these on stage

6 comments :

shepherdlass said...

Great gig. The acoustic was okay in the stalls. Was wondering if anyone knows why Gwilym Simcock started the set with special gloves andv either a fan or heater on his right hand. Whatever, it evidently worked!

Hugh said...

A fan I think - the drummer, Antonio Sanchez had a bigger one behind him! Didn't see the gloves - hyperhidrosis perhaps?

Jeff Beck said...

Totally agree re: poor acoustic in the place. It was even worse a level above you in the gallery. His Ibanez was totally lost to the powerful Sanchez drums. The internals are very similar to Middlesbrough Town Hall from where we had travelled so as soon as I walked in I knew pretty much what to expect. The main man is a machine when playing live. And what's more the fact he seems to still enjoy performing is reflected in an almost faultless repro of his studio work.

Anonymous said...

Richard Jones said...

We should also mention Linda May Han Oh on bass; first time I've seen her play and she is special and incredible to see her energy and passion. Flo and I were lucky and had seats close to the front so no problems hearing Gwilym Simcock. I discovered Pat Metheny via Humphrey Lyttelton playing Lyle Mays's 1986 debut solo album and then looking for other Mays material. It was great to hear a lot of that older material and some just intermingled in Metheny's solos. The start was delayed because of Hull's giant puppet parade which attracted thousands and required closing roads but there was close to a full house in the Hall. First time in Hull for Pat Metheny and let's hope that warm welcome that drew 2 encores will encourage him to return.

Mike Breslin said...

From where I sat, right at the front, the sound was so poor that (even as a 30 year plus fan of Pat Metheny) I struggled to enjoy the evening.

Steve T said...

The Swiss Army guitar and soft/rock Trump mane bear testament to the devotion of his legion of worshippers who I think should have a name, like Methenians.
I saw him with the Unity Band/Group a couple of years back and it was much better. On that occasion I commented to some neighbours beforehand that I'd be taking a break but didn't for fear of missing something. The only boring thing was the encore Ferry Across the Mersey.
On sat I wouldn't have minded a latte or two during this slightly shorter set. I've heard lots of his albums over the years but was surprised when he announced he'd played all oldies as I recognised very little and this is a problem; the lack of one killer album or a bunch of 'big tunes'.
He's an amazing guitarist though not as incredible as the Methenians would have us believe, as he himself admits, though they put it down to him being humble and modest.
In Manchester people were handing out flyers for the jazz festival and I remember them being dumbfounded when somebody said they didn't like jazz, but Metheny has never had to rely solely on the jazz fraternity. Guitarists always turn out to hear big name guitarists and I suspect these make up the majority of Methenians, but he can also count on a few jazzers, ECM completists and, I'm afraid, listeners of smooth radio.
The sound was pretty good where I was, though the guitar was ever so slightly muggy and we could only really hear the piano on solos, though when you've got one of the greatest guitar all-rounders ever, a piano's actually a bit extravagant. When we came back in for the second encore (the first having been excruciatingly boring), we stayed around the sound desk and this was the best sound and the best part of the whole show. Talking to others, some had real nightmares, not being able to hear the guitar.

Blog Archive

About this blog - contact details.

Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Subscribe!