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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Tommy Emmanuel & Martin Taylor @ The Sage. March 8, 2013

(Review by Russell).
The Sage’s principal concert hall (Hall One) seats 1700 patrons. The appearance of guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor ensured that a good number of those seats were occupied – no mean feat in these straightened times on a cold winter’s night (spring has most definitely not yet sprung). Aussie Emmanuel has toured the world tirelessly for many years, so too Scotland’s Taylor, earning the right to perform at such a prestigious venue as the Sage Gateshead.
Emmanuel spoke of his many visits to the north east’s smaller performance spaces (the intimate Buddle Arts Centre in Wallsend, Sunderland’s equally intimate Ropery down in the docklands of Deptford and in Newcastle the Tyne Theatre before graduating to the famed City Hall) and told how he set his sights on securing a booking at what was then a construction site on the banks of the Tyne from which the Sage Gateshead would rise to dominate the physical and musical landscape.
Our musical journey in Hall One took us from Dick McDonagh and Carl Kress (Cole Porter’s’s Heatwave), Goodman’s Jersey Bounce to a Lennon and McCartney medley. Along the way we stopped off to hear more from Benny Goodman (A Smooth One, a la Charlie Christian), Fats Waller (Honeysuckle Rose), a blues, Secret Love (the imperious Doris Day is alive and kicking!) and others. Emmanuel switched from one beautiful acoustic guitar to another, sitting then standing as the mood took him, all the while demonstrating a mastery of dynamics. The Aussie showed he is no mean tunesmith with two or three crowd pleasers; the ever-popular Angelina and a brace of new ones - Blood Brother and My Travelling Clothes. All this before his show-stopper – Somewhere over the Rainbow.
Martin Taylor, a bona fide jazz guitarist (he is an endorsee of Peerless guitars and one lucky person will be entered into a hat to win the guitar that was in his hands on stage at the Sage should they purchase a copy of his latest CD at one of the gigs on this tour!), wasn’t to be outdone. Taylor’s first few appearances on Tyneside as a young man were back in the day at the Corner House Hotel. It was evident then that he was destined for the jazz stratosphere (Stephane Grappelli came calling) and he has maintained his pre-eminence to this day. Any doubters were silenced with this selection – They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Lullaby of Birdland and a simply brilliant version of I Got Rhythm (Taylor’s  simultaneous improvisation of melody line and bass line was and is the eighth wonder of the world!). A night for students of the guitar. A night for lovers of great music. A great night out at the Sage Gateshead.
Russell.                    

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