Auckland Town Hall, New Zealand
I’ve never been a fan of Pat Metheny. In fact, I have never been a fan of jazz guitar though there are notable exceptions. Just too noodley and in the case of Pat Metheny that signature tone of his electric guitar sort of reminds me of Kenny G. Everything merges, I can never tell one song from another. There are times I’ve thought “if that was on piano, I’d like it, but not on guitar”. But I have a couple of early ECM records of his, coz that is what you did and I have seen him once before. Sort of. I was given free tickets courtesy of doing a radio show on a station the promoters were advertising on. My brother and I went along and within 20 minutes of said noodling we looked at each other and then repaired to the bar, never to return.
A mate wanted to go in Melbourne ,on this tour, and I said “nah, too fucking boring”.
As it happens, Nick has a spare ticket and having never set eyes on the bloke 2 days ago I’ve had beers at a mingle (see blog), dinner pre concert and now here we are sitting together at a concert of a bloke I have hitherto had nothing but unkind words for. You see, I figured it was meant to be. Mrs Wells was retired hurt after the mingle and here’s a ticket going in a new city. Plus he has got a band this time. So here I am sitting up on the balcony, in Auckland, with @nickduvet . That is us on the right towards the stage with a good view of Pat but annoyingly for ex-drummer Nick, the drummer is obscured. Not a packed hall but over 1000 of its 1500 capacity. The massive pipe organ is curtained off and the piano has a thick blanket over it. Sound balance perhaps? 4 musicians -Metheny’s long-time drummer Antonio Sanchez, Malaysian-Australian bassist Linda May Han Oh and British pianist Gwilym Simcock.
The first thing I notice is Pat has still got that great thatch of hair like a wigwam atop his dome. Guess it is a brand by now. And here he is seated outdoing McLaughlin and Page- it’s a triple neck .6 string, mini harp below that and above the guitar strings a mandolin or a very short necked 12 string. We couldn’t see how many strings it had. Nick thought a mandolin so we will run with that. He played all 3 in the one song so it wasn’t a total wank. The evening unfolds with lots of Metheny sounding songs and lots of Metheny sounding guitar. The many solos receive many rounds of applauses- what is it with jazz audiences ? Every fricken solo? But these players are tops and my tepid attitude towards Metheny is quickly evolving into serious respect. Such wonderful touch, such incredible finesse with both hands and on acoustic, semi acoustic and wringing out plenty of effects on straight electric. Even strumming alone is 1, really effective and 2 highly complementary to the lead player at that time. A nice touch was him doing duets with each of the other players ,all really good finishing with a bit of a wig out with the drummer.
Standing ovation and first a solo encore which included probably the best adaptation of Waltzing Matilda I have heard (and being an Aussie I’ve heard a lot) followed by a full band thingy.
Pat in his surprisingly young sounding voice (he was born in 1954) thanked us all and they were off.
Older, lotta grey, but not overwhelmingly so and quite a lot of women in attendance.
It made me think..
Did he have hair spray on? I swear that thick greying thatch did not move all night. When his head was down over the guitar it never fell into his face.
Yes I think it was hairspray.