I see a lot of sadness in the world, but none in this lettuce.
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this show, but I heard about robots, a one man orchestra and Pat Metheny's hair-I'm in. I've secretly wanted to be a jazz guitarist for-like-ever, sneaking in 7b5 and 13th chords wherever possible in the little acoustic outfit by the name of The Alpine Black.
At any rate, I figured I go for a few tunes and sneak out the backdoor. So Pat comes out with a classical guitar and strums, or rather owns a few songs, some of which I recognized from my jazzhead days. Parts of Phase Dance and maybe As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls? I was tingling with nostalgia and ready to limp away to the nearest exit. I was looking for madness, not a nice classical guitar performance. But there were a few vibraphone looking monsters, ominous metal blades and a piano onstage, so I needed to see what the hell was going to go down. Okay, he goes to his electric and wails away. We are getting warmer. then this comes out:
The maker, Linda Manzer was in the audience as Pat gave a nod to her genius. A crazy little piece on this Picasso guitar and he moved to another priceless guitar. A high-hat began to accompany him that was one of the robot creatures on stage. Okay, cute, but it's basically a glorified metronome:
He was tearing away on the guitar though. I forgot how fucking brilliant this dude is so I wasn't so critical of the high-hat and vibraphone working at the command of his guitar. It was a cute gimmick. I'm thinking all the while about percussion and drums, how cool would that be? Bow down bitch; I was owned.
All of a sudden the curtain behind him raised and there, in a beautiful metal mess, an entire stage full of cages full of instruments. Most were percussive in nature set about to tapping, nailing, swinging, and teetering. Fucking accordions and bottles and more guitars. True story: Lady next to me gasped and put both her hands up to her mouth as if Pat had just proposed to her-thing is, I agreed with her, but I was playing it cool. What the fuck is going on? This is too much man, I needed a nip of something to take the edge off. Jesus, her husband 2 seats away couldn't sit still either. The crowd was shifting and ooing and ahhing. We were in. Fuck bands. Let Pat play everything, this is great.
So it began: one of the most amazing concerts I have ever seen. I can't say enough about his playing, I mean, his solos are just straight from heaven. Some of his compositions are boring, but fuck that: He is god. Not Clapton. Still, that does the orchestra thingy no justice, and that was what we were after.
It began in his grandfather's basement at 7 or 9 yrs old with a player piano. This is what the overall concept is: a 21st player piano all tethered to his guitar. Little robot sensors placed in custom made instruments for Pat that respond to his guitar. After he performed Orchestrion, his album dedicated to this concept, he played a few improvisational pieces to further explain to us the concept of this monster, building a tune piece by piece. Unreal. One Ornette Coleman tune in there as well.
Do yourself a favor and catch this show if it ever comes around again. For your eyes and a better explanation: http://www.patmetheny.com/orchestrioninfo/
(Lettuce photo credit taken from here:http://urge2burge.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/pat-metheny-group-willisau-jazz-festival-switzerland-3081981/)