This isn’t Tommy Emmanuel’s first trip to Wales, as evident from the crowd-calling and his own recollections of playing small pubs around the country. He’s been here and done that several times now.
His is a touring business, and coupled with his astonishing skill on guitar, this business is good. Ever the showman, he cannot seem to put a chord wrong or say a word that doesn’t hold meaning for him and the crowd, reassuring them that his goal is entertainment and ensuring they have the night of their lives.
“Showmanship and virtuosity are his flavour and this crowd is hungry for a taste.”
Opening the night was his support act, Clive Carroll, a virtuoso in his own right, offering a range of classical and baroque pieces mixed with some 12-bar grooves and rock n roll. He delivers his skill with such finesse that it’s hard to believe his cheerful open banter between songs can be attributed to such impressive guitar playing.
It’s a humbling experience to be in the presence of these guitarists, knowing full well of their accomplishments and skills they remain perpetually genuine and warm with their tales of songwriting and touring.
Carroll recalls performing with classical guitarist John Williams with awe in his eyes and the audience reactions to his playing and tell-taling are massive: a lovely man with a beautifully-sculpted playing technique and charm for hours.
“A sparkling set for the ages”
Tommy is as explosive as ever; here’s a man who seemingly never lets go of his guitar. “Guitar Boogie” and “Deep River Blues” remind us all that his contemporary playing can rival the shreddiest of speed metal guitarists, but it’s the bits in between the songs that really catch the breath. It’s those special dischords and beautiful jazz shapes that seemingly appear from nowhere but add such a tonality to the songs, and watching it live hearing the audience reactions really lends gravitas to the music.
It could be argued that the live viewing is more for those interested in the technical esoteric nature of guitar playing, but he delivers a show with his regaling of touring and he even plays a song he composed ten years ago in a pub in Ebbw Vale!
A dance piece provided by his daughter and the finale involving Clive and him playing together stand out in the show, and he offers a good 90-minute set for his crowd. At one point, he talks about the unpleasant nature of tour managers and industry heads, making the point that he plays for us and despite being contracted for 75 minutes, he’s going to keep playing for us.
It is a sparkling set for the ages, indeed, there was a wide range of ages in the audience that night, and his music is at once accessible, utterly impressive and fun.
He is the greatest guitarist you’ve never heard of. His music is highly recommended.
Image credit: Tommy Emmanuel Facebook page
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