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ERIC JOHNSON, O2 ABC, Glasgow 7 July 2012
is a musicians' musician who is spoken about in exulted tones by the
likes of Joe Bonamassa and Alex Lifeson of Rush. This is the Texan
guitar maestro's first UK tour and judging by the way the tickets flew
out the box office, it was hotly anticipated.
at the ABC I was met with a large queue lined around the building which
was an interesting mix of middle aged gents which I expected, but there
was also a large number of teenagers and 20 somethings there which
showed that Eric's appeal crosses the generation gap. Unusually, the
venue was all seated for this performance which led me to believe that
perhaps the promoters weren't expecting the younger element to the
support, the band were due on stage at 8pm as this venue is one of those
that turns, pumpkin like, into a disco after 11pm, meaning an early gig
curfew at 9.45pm. When the band hadn't appeared on stage by 8.20pm,
there were a few restless natives in the audience, but finally Eric,
along with bass player Chris Maresh and drummer Wayne Salzmann made it
on to the stage and once they kicked into the first track, all was
point was, of course, Mr Johnson himself who, armed with his trusty
Strat, played up a storm throughout the set. He does though get a bit
lost in his music and doesn't have a huge rapport with the audience, but
no one seems to mind when they are watching a craftsman at work.
range of songs from his back catalogue, some from his latest album '
Close' and a few choice covers, the set featured blues, rock, jazz and
everything in between all played with consummate ease.
section of Maresh and Salzmann were more than a match for Johnson's
playing, especially during the longer, jazzier passages as ably
demonstrated on 'Last House On The Block'.
highlights for me though were the funky 'Manhattan', a fantastic version
of 'Nothing Can Keep Me From You' and the set tour de force 'When The
Sun Meets The Sky' on which Johnson excelled.
the slickest of shows though with a few 'tuning odysseys' throughout the
set and a lot of fiddling with cables and effect pedals which
interrupted the flow and rendered the hall almost silent at times, which
was an unusual situation.
end of the set though, Eric showed why he is so respected as a guitarist
with an extended solo spot during which he incorporated his whole
musical arsenal, his fingers a blur on the fretboard and note perfect
throughout. This then morphed into arguably his most well known number ,
the Grammy winning 'Cliffs Of Dover' which rounded off the set
you couldn't fault this gig, I am not sure though that the venue did the
show any favours and things were a bit disjointed on stage at times.
however, proved beyond doubt that he deserves the respect of his peers
and the adoration of his loyal following, although had he been another
ten minutes later at the start, it may have been a different story.
Review by David Wilson
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