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Pat Metheny & Side-Eye, Eventim Apollo review - energy and melodic clarity | reviews, news & interviews

Pat Metheny & Side-Eye, Eventim Apollo review - energy and melodic clarity

Pat Metheny & Side-Eye, Eventim Apollo review - energy and melodic clarity

Inexhaustible guitar maestro finds a new generation of listeners

Pat Metheny: 'the persuasiveness and confidence of the melodic line never goes away'Simon Reed

Nobody could ever force guitarist Pat Metheny into doing the touring schedule he imposes upon himself. The 67 year-old still does well over 100 concerts a year. The current European tour alone, which started at the end of April and finishes in 10 days' time contains no fewer than 44 dates.

And there is no holding back with the length of the sets either. An enquiry to the promoter prior to last night’s London concert at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith revealed that his team were expecting him to do a single two-hour set without a break. In the event, the set was just over two and a half hours, with four encores. Palpably, the 67 year-old’s motivation and energy are completely undimmed.

The band for the current tour is a version of the Side-Eye Trio with organ/synths/piano and drums. Contemporaries who knew Metheny in the 1970's still remember his deep fascination with Hammond organ-playing from a very early stage, and with the live performances of Charles Earland in particular. In a sense, then, the current trio marks a return to those particular roots.

The Side-Eye Trio album released last year, Side-Eye NYC (VI.IV), had keyboardist James Francies on it, and he may well have been the catalyst that has brought the group to life. Francies was originally billed to play this London concert but the role has been taken on this tour by the remarkable 24 year-old, Los Angeles-born Chris Fishman. Fishman made his positive mark early, playing the Jaco Pastorius bass line on "Bright-Sized Life" with his left hand and his own solo with his right. He was particularly effective in a duelling synths episode much later, but in this trio concert, the role of providing backings, textures, shadows is something he does with great subtlety and artistry.

The drummer here is Joe Dyson, born in 1990 into a family of New Orleans musicians. Dyson, who has worked extensively with Christian Scott, is a genuine force. His solo episodes brought to the fore a wonderful textural awareness and a dynamism reminiscent of Jack DeJohnette. Whereas one German reviewer at an early stage of this tour had expressed doubts as to the whether these two players were actually up to the task, there could be no such qualms from last night.

The repertoire Metheny plays roams extensively over his back catalogue, and the big (not quite full capacity?) audience last night cheered the arrival of tunes like the jaunty "Phase Dance" or the atmospheric "Are You Going with Me?" from Offramp to the echo. Metheny's dexterity, speed and invention always go hand-in-hand with lyricism that has astonishing clarity and purpose. In essence, the persuasiveness and confidence of the melodic line never goes away. This was above all the case in a remarkable medley of songs played solo on nylon-string guitar, which including a beautiful "James" and an intricate, spellbinding "Omaha Celebration".

The concert had one dramatic "reveal" as the stage hands removed cloths from Metheny's automatic instruments. The person in the next seat to me gasped: memories of the Orchestrion packing up once at a previous London concert were suddenly evoked. This time there were no mishaps, and once the first number with these instruments was over, the trio appeared to offer up their gratitude. There is a rumour that the stage team keep a tiny oriental deity to hand just for this purpose.

One very positive feature of last night's concert is that in addition to the Metheny faithful, there was a significant younger element in the audience. So the choice as final encore of the track which, perhaps surprisingly, is Metheny's most-streamed tune, the Beatles' "And I Love her" from What's It All About (10 million streams), made a lot of sense.

@sebscotney

Metheny's dexterity, speed and invention always go hand-in-hand with lyricism

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Outstanding musical experience from the worlds number 1 composer/musician. My only concern is when Pat will be back?

Absolutely agree with all this wonderful article says. I’ve seen PM many times , but this , with the young stripped down feel and in the Odeon felt just right !

Totally agree with the review. It was a great night of classics and new material. I was amazed at the fourth encore and the sixth 'extra' performance. Both the keyboard player and the drummer were of virtuoso standard and the whole effect inspired feelings of 'I'm just glad to be able to say I was there'

Thank you so much /Ursula and Mark for these really kind words. It is good to know that thoughts which get put together at speed in the early hours of the morning can stand scrutiny in the light of day!  

Michael, I have chased up your question and the only official answer I have received it is that there is nothing yet fixed for the UK.

I'm sure you are aware that the "Schedule" page on Pat Metheny's website is kept very accurately up-to-date (these are thorough-going professionals), and currently runs through to mid-October. 

Excellent review - didn't know that about PM's love for organ trios. I just thought he had heard a couple of guys with great left hands and didn't want too many big chords clashing with the guitar. Stupendous gig - for me his best since PMG days, not any gig of PM's is ever less than inspiring and brilliant.

Aaron you are right to ask the question about Pat Metheny's  thinking about organ trios going back a long way. The source here is the book "Beneath Missouri Skies - Pat Metheny in Kansas City 1964-1972" by Carolyn Glenn Brewer, and the relevant section is pp 74-6. PM describes Monte Muza's playing with the Greg Meise Trio as "a gorgeous distillation of the best aspects of how the role of guitarist in organ trios had developed during that fertile period of time." I hope that is useful. 

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