It’s Friday night and I was at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a sold out show to see one of the great jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny. Pat has been playing jazz and guitar since he was 12 years old. At 18 he was teaching electric guitar at the University of Miami. At 19 he moved to Boston to teach jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music. Pat has 42 recordings that have resulted in three gold albums and 20 Grammy Awards. Over his career, he has had the honor to have played with many outstanding musicians including David Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joni Mitchell and Santana. His style is a fusion of progressive and contemporary jazz.
The show started with Pat sitting on a stool playing a solo song with his 42-string Pikasso guitar. The crowd was so quite that you could hear a pin drop. After the first song, Pat was joined by the rest of the band: Gwilym Simcock on keyboards, Linda Oh on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. Pat switched to his hollow body guitar that he used for most of the show. It was amazing to watch as Pat’s fingers effortlessly glided across the frets. The concert consisted of both up tempo and slow jazz songs. Even though Pat was the star of the show, he was very gracious to give each of the band members their time in the spotlight to show off their talents. Throughout the show, each member of the band was given numerous spotlight performances. They also each got to do a 1 song duet with Pat.
The set ended with Pat and Antonio playing together. Pat was on his Roland G-303 Guitar and I thought at one point I was listening to Keith Emerson. Then a little later it sounded like early Pink Floyd music. It was amazing what sounds Pat could pull from the guitar. The set ended with the audience giving the band a standing ovation. The encore started with Pat doing an acoustic guitar solo. At this time I was sitting in the back of the venue and the sound was amazing and crystal clear. I could hear every note Pat played and there was no echo or feedback. For the second and last song of the encore, the entire band played and again, each member got a spotlight performance during the song. Again, the crowd was on their feet cheering and clapping. The show consisted of 15 songs in the main set and 2 songs in the encore for a great 2 hours of jazz.
Pat played one of the 4 different guitars throughout the show. The most unique was his 42 string Pikasso guitar. This is an insane guitar with 4 necks: a 6 and 12 string neck on the right side, a 12 string on top and a multi string at the left side. The best joke I heard about this guitar was: A guy walks into guitar center, “Hey could you re-string my guitar?” “Sure. It’ll be about… (opens case)” “….get out.” The majority of the show, Pat played his signature Ibanez PM1000 hollow body guitar. For a couple of songs, he played an acoustic guitar. The other unique guitar he played was the Roland G-303 Guitar Synthesizer Controller. This is a predecessor to the modern midi guitar. The first time he played it, I thought I heard a trumpet as he was playing. If Pat was a rock guitarist, I am sure that he would be one of the top 10 guitarist.
A Pat Metheny concert is not for everyone. There are no dancers. There is no singing. There was a set list, but in true freestyle jazz fashion, they did not play to it. There is no fancy stage show. But what you get is a fantastic group of musicians playing amazing music. If you like jazz or just want to see a truly gifted guitarist, then this is a show you definitely want to see.
Review by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts