Paul Gilbert – The Mean Fiddler, London

June 6th, 2007
by Hanntu

Paul Gilbert
The Mean Fiddler, London, UK
3rd June 2007

Live Pics and Review by HannTu

 

 

One of the most likeable figures in rock music, as well as one of the fastest and most accurate shredders around, former Racer X and Mr Big guitarist Paul Gilbert is instantly recognisable by anyone who knows anything about rock guitar. His blistering pace with an unmistakeable dry tone, with an ear for catchy melodies and hooks, coupled with an awareness of dynamics and attack make him one of my favourite guitarists, and one of the people I looked up to when I first started to play guitar. Some of his critics, perhaps with some justification, call him a one-trick pony, with an overemphasis on fast linear runs and repetitive three-note-per-string soloing. Indeed, Paul himself (with customary humility) self deprecatingly admits that he is not very good in techniques like sweeping. However, anyone who has watched his instructional videos will know that Paul possesses accuracy and speed, an utter understanding of the guitar as an instrument, as well as a feeling for chordal and melodic subtleties. In short, he’s not “just a shredder”. Touring in support of his latest album GET OUT OF MY YARD, he was very eagerly anticipated in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />London, and all sorts of people made up the crowd last night: ageing rockers, young gun guitarists, metalheads, glams, emos and musicians of all kinds.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 

Support Act

 

 

I wasn’t very interested in the support act, to the extent that I didn’t bother to catch their name. They played a sort of Green Day + White Stripes type pop punk rockish stuff, with some Britrock/indie influences, like Oasis, Coldplay etc. In short, wailing vocals, jangling open chords and simplistic bass, and which reminded me why I hate indie/Britrock so much. The only good thing about them was the drummer, who played some very decent and interesting fills. Indeed, I was watching him to keep from falling asleep, as the frontman was entirely lacking in charisma. However, there must have been some of his mates in the crowd, as they got quite an enthusiastic reaction from some people in the front three rows. The rest of us were just waiting for the mice to go away so that the cat could come out to play.

 

 

 

Pablo Gilberto

 

 

The nutty oddball with the weird dress sense took to the stage in purple overalls to kick off the evening. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the set list was culled from Senor Gilberto’s latest offering, the entirely instrumental GET OUT OF MY YARD. There was also a smattering of his work in Racer X, Mr Big and previous solo albums, as well as a Jimi Hendrix cover.

 

The set started with the unbelievable title track “Get Out Of My Yard”, one and a half minutes of jaw dropping shredding, speed picking, arpeggios and orgasmic bending, played on a double necked guitar with bassist Mike Szuter as the human capo. For those who can’t visualise it, youtube “paul gilbert get out of my yard” and prepare to be awed!

 

 

 

 

The next four songs were also from GET OUT OF MY YARD. “Hurry Up” is a stomping rocker with a beautiful repeated “chorus”. “The Curse of Castle Dragon” is in pretty much the same vein, with a darker atmosphere. “Rusty Old Boat” is an amazing funk-influenced number that starts off deceptively mild and ascends to a groovy head-nodding jam.

 

One thing I’ve always loved about Paul Gilbert is how he wears his heart on his sleeve, and how he just loves playing guitar. The smile on his face never faded the entire evening, and his beaming face and energetic stage movement just made for a fantastic show. His bandmates were equally animated, although his wife and keyboardist Emi was a little bit more shy and reserved. Bassist Mike Szuter was a ball of energy, combining technical ability (playing Billy Sheehan parts, you have to be something special) with some rock star 101 poses! Since Mike was in front of me almost the whole time, he obscured drummer Jeff Bowders so I couldn’t really see what he was up to. Back to the music…

 

 

 

    

 

The next few songs are old Paul Gilbert favourites. “Spaceship One” and “Scarified” were absolutely killer, while he teased us with the intro to the Mr Big hit “To Be With You”. Anyone hoping for a mushy singalong was swiftly disappointed (not me) when he launched into “Down to Mexico”. Then the famous drum intro signalled the most eagerly anticipated song of the evening: “Technical Difficulties”. Never was a song so aptly named. My jaw fell, and there on the floor it remained for the duration of the song…

 

 

 

The rest of the set was vintage Paul Gilbert, and it would be pointless to do a song by song review. “Foxy Lady” finally gave the majority of the crowd their long desired singalong, and “Mount Fuji Christmas” has always been a favourite of mine. Needless to say, Paul’s special brand of goofy humour was on display all night (introducing the songs GILBERT style!), as was his utter delight at being in London. A minor complaint would be the choice of songs: I just wish “Marine Layer” and “Haydn Symphony No. 88 Finale” from his new album were included in the set list, replacing a couple of the shredathons. In my opinion, these two songs would have better showcased a different facet to Paul Gilbert. “Marine Layer” is an absolutely beautiful piano and acoustic guitar piece, that would have allowed Emi some spotlight time as well. “Haydn Symphony” or “Gilberto Concerto” would have showed off his neoclassical side, and given the evening a different dynamic. But hey, I count my lucky stars to have seen such a concert by a person who is not only supremely gifted as a musician, but also as a person.

 

 

 

Setlist

1. Get Out of My Yard

2. Hurry Up

3. The Curse of Castle Dragon

4. Rusty Old Boat

5. My Teeth Are a Drumset

6. Eruption

7. Spaceship One

8. Scarified

9. To Be With You

10. Down to Mexico

11. Technical Difficulties

12. Green Tinted 60s Mind

13. Twelve Twelve

14. Nothing But Love

15. Addicted to that Rush

16. Mount Fuji Christmas

17. Interaction

18. I Like Rock

19. My Religion

20. Three E’s For Edward

21. I’m Not Afraid Of The Police

22. Foxy Lady

23. You Kids

Paul Gilbert’s Entirely Homemade and Terrifying Website:

 

http://www.paulgilbert.com/

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