As Pat Metheny worked a synthesized electric guitar, squeezing out runs and flourishes of horn-like sounds against the drums of Joe Dyson and the interlocked keyboards of James Francies, I simply wrote “wow” in my notebook.
Perhaps that reaction was far too simple. But it summarizes not only the piece that came midway through Metheny’s “Side-Eye” concert at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on Monday, but the entire astounding performance.
"Side-Eye" is the latest project from the jazz guitar virtuoso in which he’s played with younger musicians, on record and in a series of concerts.
Francies, who plays an array of keyboards, doing bass on one, playing hard-jazz runs on another and spinning in sampled loops and drone on a third, was on the “Side-Eye” record, while Dyson, a young New Orleans hotshot, stepped behind the drum kit for this run of shows.
Beginning with duets with each, Metheny set the tone for the night — first on his standard hollow-body guitar, then switching to the synthesized model before he broke out an acoustic and, of course, his Pikasso guitar.
Created for him to get as many strings as possible on the instrument, the Pikasso guitar has an set of strings across the acoustic guitar body that create a harp-like sound and a second small neck to go with the standard guitar neck. His ability to play all of those, thumping the body with his thumb for percussion, and create a vibrant sound was, well, astounding.
That came late in the two-hour show that included some Metheny material from early in his career — I'm not going to guess at the titles — as well as new works. But, as it should be, even the familiar sounded fresh with Metheny at the peak of his form, whether playing and improvising around delicate material or scraping, pulling and hitting the strings on yet another guitar to create “how does he get that?” sounds.
The show, performed in front of more than 1,000 people who came to see a rare Lincoln appearance by the guitarist who grew up in Kansas City, was mesmerizing from the start through the two encores — one with Metheny on acoustic, the second by the trio with Metheny again working the synth guitar.
And, judging from the reaction of those around me, including some high-fives, the crowd would have gladly stayed for more. It’s not every day that you get to see and hear one of the world’s greatest guitarists on what had to be a very, very good night.
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Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or email@example.com. On Twitter @KentWolgamott
L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.
“We’re really glad to have him come back as a headliner,” arena manager Tom Lorenz said. “He was so impressive before. It seemed like during the pandemic, he was everywhere on YouTube, a lot more people were exposed to his music.”