An Evening with Pat Metheny
w/ Antonio Sanchez, Linda Oh & Gwilym Simcock
on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater
September 26, 2016
Photo's and review by: Patrick Dunn
Being a fan of guitarists, the name Pat Metheny has been part of my music vocabulary for as long as I can remember. Whether you like Jazz music or not, Metheny is an upper echelon player and is a must see for any six-string enthusiast. He has consistently drawn well in the Twin Cities and for this show filled the 1,100 seat Wurtele Thrust Stage as part of the “Live at the Guthrie” series presented in association with the Dakota Jazz Club.
Throughout his career, Metheny has followed the typical industry formula - write songs, record an album, tour to promote the new material. Having done this for more than 40 years, he has amassed a ton of great music that rarely makes it onto a set list. When speaking about this tour to Monday night's audience, Metheny said, “This time around is special.” With his current touring band; Antonio Sanchez (drums), Linda Oh (bass) & Gwilym Simcock (piano), he has a great deal of latitude to pull from his catalog at will knowing these elite musicians can hang with him through anything. About halfway through the show, Metheny commented, “I’m looking down at the sheet and nothing really resembles what we’ve just been playing.” Metheny appeared to be having a lot of fun with this format and showed great endurance, cramming an awful lot of notes into the 2 ½ hour set.
There was very little time wasted between songs and 70 minutes flew by before a word had been spoken when Metheny finally took a break to introduce the band. Simcock shinned most when given the opportunity to solo. He showed a great deal of versatility on his instrument and demonstrated some tasteful choices in his phrasing throughout. It was simply amusing to watch Oh make her way around the standup acoustic bass, which in size comparison seemed an unfair opponent. She has extraordinary speed and finesse with an ability to make it all look so effortless. Sanchez won the crowd over and demonstrated he’s clearly in a league of his own. A wildly dynamic player with amazing touch as he attacks the skins in a way that is both intentional and precise. His one-on-one breakout with Metheny was one of the shows best moments.
One other key factor that made this show so enjoyable was the perfect choice of venue for this style of performance. The extra little touches like lighting up a soloing artist were fully taken advantage of, something that should always happen, but rarely does. The Guthrie also earns high marks on sound quality for this very dynamic show that really put it to the test. Recognition must also be given to the engaged and mostly considerate audience who allowed the quiet moments be quiet and found a way to put their cell phones away for a couple hours and enjoy the moment.
Metheny hinted that this tour experience may uncover what the next period of his career has in store, so keep that on your radar and make sure you are in the seats when he comes back to the Twin Cities.