Space Theatre, Thursday July 17
Who would have thought that wild and untamed electric guitar from the rock gods of the seventies and eighties would still be with us in 2014 (my mother told me it would never last), and would even be featured at a high profile cultural event in the city's premiere theatre? But so it was last night at the Late Night Session of the Adelaide International Guitar Festival.
Three guitar shredders took the stage in turn to demonstrate the power of the electric form of guitar. Whether you like it or not, the electric guitar is a remarkable instrument. As well as being able to weep (George Harrison) , talk (Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road), Cam Blokland, Marcel Yammouni, and Simon Hosford got their guitars to wail, scream, screech and soar in a powerhouse display of guitar wizardry.
Local lad, Cam Blokland was up first. Looking every bit the rock star with long hair and sunnies (he's the guy in sunglasses on the festival's promo poster) he reeled off a number of original 'songs' with occasional glimpses of melody (I liked the one his Mum liked), that were mostly showcases for his incredibly nimble fingers. His self-deprecating send-ups of the body language of rock guitarists was a nice touch too. Marcel Yammouni followed with a slightly less frenetic performance that involved less notes and more space, more moments of what might be called melody, and indeed some subtlety. He dedicated one of his songs to Johnny Winter, the legendary Albino Blues guitarist who had sadly died earlier in the day. But then Simon Hosford blew all notions of melody and subtlety out of the water with an onslaught of speed and a percussive style that was not so much music as an exploration into the power of electricity.
Seeing guitar played by these three maestros of this genre was an assault on the senses, and one can't escape the fact that guitar played like this is an extension of ego - how can one person make so much noise/be so loud? But as Simon Hosford said, "this is about as much fun as you can have standing up!" I really enjoyed the show, but it was strange to see and hear this kind of music where no one was dancing (there was barely even any discernible rocking of torsos as I looked around the room), there was no superstar hype surrounding the personas of the guitarists, and no screaming fans. It was all very serious and studied. It seems wild metal shredding guitar has come of age.
And kudos to the fantastic band members supporting the guitar tyros - they were a show in their own right. Keyboard and bass and drums all got to do solos, but it was the drum solo that took me back - vintage!
Now for a little classical baroque at the other end of the guitar spectrum.......
(also published at The Clothesline)