Friday, 4 December 2009

715 ROGER MCGUINN, Jade Gallagher, Bristol St. Georges Hall, Monday 30 October 2006

After the founder of 1960's legends The Byrds (whose influence can still be heard on, ooh, about half my record collection) wowed me a couple of years ago with his clarity, lucidity and superb voice, I was up for another performance (key word) from the man, despite his advancing years. So Rachel and I zoomed down on a clear dark night, parking and trekking up the hill to this old church venue, renowned for the clarity of its acoustics. Took our balcony seats, halfway along stage left, for support Jade Gallagher at 8. Never trust a Gallagher with a guitar, so it seems, although whilst the Oasis siblings are evilly offensive, Jade was just dull, recalling the bland folky Marie DeSalle from the "High Fidelity" film.

Had a drink in the interval before taking our seats again just before 9. The lights dimmed, and the unmistakable chiming intro of "Mr. Tambourine Man" rang out, as Roger wandered on, 7-string Rickenbacker already strapped on and playing, like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. The descending hush was only broken by audience accompaniment, as Roger softly requested, "sing with me". Hey, if Roger McGuinn says sing, I sing!

Thence followed a supreme virtuoso performance from a superb guitarist, a captivating raconteur and an enduring legend. Stories of Peter Fonda, Bob Dylan, the 60's Folk Den and playing traditional folk songs "with a Beatle beat" were interwoven with the full broad reach of McGuinn's canon, encompassing folk, country, old blues, Leadbelly covers and the chiming jingle jangle of his Byrds work (which was what I was really there for!).

A superb "All I Really Wanna Do" kept me going until the final third of the set; from a soaring, emotive "Chestnut Mare" onwards, the last section concentrated on the Byrds early material. Just brilliant to hear those classics again (a sing-along "Mr. Spaceman", a groovy "I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better" and a touching "Turn Turn Turn" the most memorable) sung with care by a voice hardly aged since the ‘60s.

"May The Road Rise To Meet You" brought the 1 ½ hour performance to a close. No "My Back Pages", which disappointed Rach somewhat (unfamiliar with his wider work), but, despite sound which wasn't quite as pindrop-perfect as I expected, and despite a variable first section of the set, I totally enjoyed another virtuoso performance from the master craftsman McGuinn!

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