September 11, 2016 at 11:25 am #4928
This may have been the best concert I’ve ever attended. Before I write too much and gush all over this forum, please submit your experience of this performance. Don’t be afraid to get specific, as there was a lot going on in this show, right?
September 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm #4938
Wow – what a great concert. The opening arrangement was a Metheney solo on his 42 string Pikasso guitar (I know crazy right? See YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp1wHZfZz9s) playing a beautiful, melodic tune. He then brought out his terrific band of Gwilym Simcock on piano, Linda Oh on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums where they proceeded to play a 2-plus hour set mixed with some of his early melodic tunes, newer compositions and some straight ahead jams that left us shaking our heads in awe. Truly a special evening at a great venue.
September 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm #4939
The SFJAZZ venue is terrific and our club was fortunate to be able to secure prime seating on the opening week of the season. Kudos to Alon for arranging this. The show featured diverse musical styles and Metheny’s whole group was superb. Metheny varied the pace with solo acoustic performances and one-on-one segments with other members of the group. What struck me was the talent of Sanchez and Oh, the easy sense of musical flow, and the close-knit communication that the group members had with each other. I’m not really familiar with Metheny’s large body of work but I really enjoyed the show and didn’t want it to end.
September 11, 2016 at 4:02 pm #4940
In a word Mind-blowing! I was not familiar with Metheny’s music really at all as it turns out because I recognized very little of what he played so I came in with no pre-conceived notions of what I was going to experience. As it turns out, I found parts of the show absolutely mesmerizing. Every member of his band was exceptionally talented in their own right and when Metheny was added into the mix, it was magical. My favorite numbers were the ballads and when he did a duo with the individual band members. You could see the strong chemistry between them and attention he paid to their playing styles to be able perfectly blend with them. His guitar prowess cannot go unmentioned. He did things with his guitar that I’ve really never seen before. Now I know why friends of mine who have seen him multiple times would jump at the chance to see him again. And what a super venue for this. What a great treat. Thanks Alon for arranging this super event and getting us the best seats yet.
September 15, 2016 at 3:31 pm #4946
I feel obligated to give a review of the Pat Metheny concert, even though I am a new member and haven’t attended any other SFAS events. Although it was my first foray into the SFAS world, it was definitely an event to remember.
First, I’d like to thank Alon for organizing this event. From my perspective, it went off without a hitch and allowed a newbie like me to get prime seating to see an incredible musical talent perform in a stellar acoustic environment.
As for the show itself, I enjoyed it thoroughly. For starters, the seats Alon secured for SFAS members were undeniably the best in the house. I am one of those who likes to be as centered as possible for any performance, especially for an acoustic one. I don’t know how I lucked-out, but the seat I got was dead-center and a few rows above the floor. If I had my choice of any seat in the house, it would have been the one Alon issued me. Thank you!
With my seating secured, I moved to scoping out the instruments on the stage. I could see three guitars for Pat: a hollow body, a solid body, and an acoustic 42-string instrument consisting of a all sorts of string arrangements at various angles. I’ve never seen anything like it. Linda Oh had an upright bass as well as an electric. Antonio Sanchez had a fairly traditional set of acoustic drums with an unusual arrangement of three snares to his left, each varying in size. Gwilym Simcock played a Steinway grand piano with the lid closed and blankets on top, evidently relying mainly on microphones to be heard.
The show opened with Pat by himself playing his acoustic multi-stringed juggernaut, with a light, airy number, displaying his undeniable musical talent. He had a single microphone setup in front of his instrument. Personally, I thought there was a little too much low end in the mix, but my friend sitting next to me said I was delusional. He was probably right.
Pat moved through this opening piece, then invited the other musicians to the stage and began a nearly non-stop 2-hour set without an intermission. With the next few numbers, my critique of the sound being bass-heavy vanished, and soon I was smiling from ear to ear and tapping my toes to the rhythm. I had no other issues with the sound throughout the rest of the show.
Pat played his hollow-body guitar much of the time, and the tunes varied from his signature dreamy, melodic numbers to burning, up-tempo fusion pieces that left the crowd breathless. A few times, he played the solid-body guitar which he ran through effects gadgets to give it a synthesizer sound, which of course, he played to perfection.
Pat and the others continued throughout the show to put on a staggering display of musicianship both from the original composition and through improvisation. I noticed at one point that Gwilym Simcock actually had sheet music from which he was reading to perform the complicated piano parts. Impressive to say the least, but then, these were some of the best musicians in the world. All the songs were musical masterpieces and were accentuated by the incredible virtuosity of all the band members. Although I don’t know any of the songs by title, I recall a few pieces that stuck with me.
There was one piece that I liked a lot which was free-form jazz, reminiscent of Ornette Coleman. How the musicians can all play seemingly different melodies, I can’t understand, nevertheless there seems to be an underlying rhythm to it. The sound was well balanced and crisp, and although my friend said he thought the piano could have been louder, I thought it sounded fine.
Another number that struck me was when Pat sat on a stool and played a solo piece on a normal six-string acoustic guitar. It was so beautiful and melodic; his fingers contorted into spider-like forms as he played. I closed my eyes and the sound conjured up flowing images in my mind. The sound seemed so perfect that at times I didn’t even think about the technical aspects and simply let the sound trigger my synapses unimpeded.
Other highlights of the show were some of the solos by the other musicians. Pat let them take the spotlight on numerous occasions to the delight of the crowd. My personal favorites were solos by Gwilym Simcock on the piano and Antonio Sanchez on the drums. After one number in which Gwilym performed a blistering solo, I read Pat’s lips over the applause, saying “Nice solo.” I love seeing musicians clicking like that on stage.
The most memorable moment for me though was the “solo” by Antonio Sanchez. The sheer complexity of his drumming would have been enough to satisfy the discerning listener, but this guy puts together endless soulful fills that boggle the mind. Pat did a one-on-one with all the musicians, but the one he did toward the end of the show with Antonio was sublime. It seemed to go on forever and keep building in intensity. I thought I was going to explode with joy listening to these two trade leads. The sound again was excellent. Antonio’s drum kit had four overhead microphones and one (maybe two) floor mics. To me, it sounded like the sound from the drums was coming directly to me without any amplification. I’m sure there was amplification, but that’s how good the sound engineers were. I felt like I was sitting next to the drum kit. I would pay the price of admission again just to see that portion of the show one more time.
I know I haven’t said much about Linda Oh. She played magnificently as well. My buddy gushed about her performance after the show, but I guess that confirms that everyone has their favorites. She certainly had imaginative solos and showed it on numerous occasions. I’d definitely like to see her play again.
The band came on for one encore, playing two songs. Earlier in the show, Pat reminded the crowd how lucky we were to have such a fantastic venue in SF. How right he is.
One final note. Before the show started, I struck up a conversation with a couple sitting next to me. The lady had never heard the word audiophile before, so I did my best to give her a definition and explain what our passion for sound is all about. Then they both asked me what they should be listening for during the concert. I did my best to inform them of clues for good sound. This on-the-spot lesson in music listening had me thinking later whether or not I gave them the best advice. I hope I did justice to the subject.
I wonder what other SFAS members would have told them to listen for in such a situation, being in an excellent acoustic environment with such a consummate performer as Pat Metheny. I must have given them something to discern because they poked me once during the show smiling and nodding their approval.
Alon, thanks again for a memorable night. It was great to meet you and enjoy an SFAS outing. The sound was fantastic, the compositions were outstanding, the musicianship was amazing, and did I mention my seat? I get giddy every time I think about the show and probably will for a long time to come.
September 18, 2016 at 4:04 pm #4958
What a great, review! Thank you for posting it. I concur with your points to a spooky degree –– it’s as if I wrote it, except for the effusive “thank yous” to that Alón guy, whoever he is.
Indeed, It was a memorable evening that surpassed even my high expectations. It may have been the best concert I’ve ever attended… which makes it just a little less crazy to go again the next night and see the show again, which I did!
I’m glad your first event with SFAS was so enjoyable to you. Welcome aboard!
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