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Live Music Review: Pat Metheny Dream Box Tour at Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

The Artist

Pat Metheny is best known for his jazz fusion band after his namesake. The band was formed in 1977 with his core collaborating keyboardist member, Lyle Mays. The original band also included bassists Mark Egan and Steve Rodby, drummer Paul Wertico, Antonio Sanchez percussionist and vocalist Pedro Aznar. Metheny’s golden period was on ECM records starting off with his first solo album Bright Size Life with Jaco Pastorius and Bob Moses followed up by his second album Watercolors. Then there was the Pat Metheny Group’s debut album subsequently leading to such classics as American Garage, Off Ramp, First Circle, Still Life (Talking) and later Letter From Home. During the show he cited his big influences as being Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery's album Smokin' at the Half Note along with a little Beatles thrown in for good measure. He also explained how he had become a young prodigy and played with the jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton. One of the most famous songs he recorded was with David Bowie called “This Is Not America” from the soundtrack album for the 1985 film Falcon & The Snowman. He has had a ton of collaboration with such musicians as Joni Mitchell, Chick Corea, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock and host of others. His instrumental music includes such well known compositions as “(Cross The) Heartland”, “Eighteen”, “Yolanda, You Learn”, “Better Days Ahead”, “James” “American Garage” just to name a few. All of which I play on my weekly radio show on WFIT called Guitar Trax.

Now I haven’t seen Metheny perform in a very long time, in fact not since his 1989 Letter From Home Tour at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. So, I was excited to see how he stood up to the test of time. However, I was sorely disappointed on this particular performance learning that it was a one show. Obviously, he is a talented guitarist, but whew I just about fell asleep with his baritone acoustic renditions of Glenn Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" and Dion Warwick's "Alfie". Is this really the best he can offer after all of these years? I know he has a cult following, but there are some who will argue he is a bit overrated. Many critics point to his 1999 win for best rock instrumental performance by the Grammy's for "The Roots of Coincidence", even though there were much better authentic rock performances by such artists as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Santana and Steve Vai. But I do like Metheny’s music especially his collaborations with Lyle Mays. However, there was a glimmer of old Metheny magic on one song when he picked up the guitar and played that old familiar Synclavier sound. The show really just consisted of him stepping on multiple loop process pedals and triggers that would play an assortment of sounds. I still waited with bated breath hoping that behind the curtain there would be some real musicians to blow our minds. He had several black sheets over various objects on the stage, so I naturally thought there were special guest to come join him. But it was not to be, they were just hiding his various guitars. The 2-1/2-hour show was mostly an acoustic set with dribs and drabs of computer percussion sounds. For at least 50% of the show he played between his Pikasso and baritone acoustic guitars. Man, what a sleeper show. Unfortunately, because of the low energy and the dullness of the compositions I can’t recommend this show to many people, but we always have the old recordings for nostalgia.

Multi-Emmy award winning Brian Tarquin is an established top rate composer/guitarist/producer. Through the past 30 years he has enjoyed Top 10 radio hits in several formats. His recent release "Beyond The Warrior's Eyes" went #1 on the Roots Music Reports Top 50 Fusion Albums. His music has been heard by tens of millions on a plethora of television and film scores.
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