Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A blues concert to remember

Yesterday, after work, Pete and I drove down (or up, or sideways – whichever) to Crewe for a concert at “Club M” by a musician called Walter Trout. Pete had discovered him by some accidental arcane process some time ago, and promptly fallen in love with his blues music, playing him incessantly for a while thereafter. I took a little time to be converted (mainly because I was in the throes of first love with Joe Bonamassa) but once I really listened to Trout, I couldn’t help but fall for his fantastic guitar work. If I’ve described David Gilmour’s music as an enveloping cascade, well, Walter Trout’s music is an absolute avalanche. You cannot help but be involved headlong in it.

Trout (after meeting him at yesterday’s concert, I keep wanting to refer to him as “Mr Trout” – he was such a nice old guy!) is one of the world’s most accomplished guitarists, ranked at No 5. I was reluctant to admit that he could be better than David Gilmour, but after yesterday, I’m afraid I have to concede that point. I carry my torch high for Gilmour, though – he has a sexier voice than Mr Trout and nobody’s going to convince me otherwise! :)

Club M is big for a club, but fairly small and intimate for a concert. The sound system was fantastic – even I as an amateur could tell that, and Pete as the semi-pro was all praise for it. I’ve decided that small intimate concerts are the way to go... no ostentatiously pompous security guards ordering people about, no regimented seating, you can walk right up to the stage to watch the musicians, you can see their faces and expressions without requiring binoculars - and Mr Trout was kind enough to come right up to the edge of the stage and play his guitar so that his admiring fans could watch his fantastic flying fingers. He was just SO good... and he exhibited hardly any of the posturing and bending and wriggling and twisting that so many guitarists and violinists seem inclined to do, probably to demonstrate just how involved they are with their performance.

Well, Mr Trout was living proof of my conviction that the best musicians and artists (and footballers as well) do not need to resort to grandstanding to convince people of their talent and dedication. Virtuosity will out, without any acting. I have to mention the drummer, too – a man-mountain sent probably by the angels to earth so that he could play for Mr Trout. Half the time he had his eyes closed while doing the most intricate drumming... which I thought was amazing, but Pete just laughed and pointed out that he probably knew where all his drums and cymbals were.

Hm. Quite.

But he was fabulously good.

There were two other artistes that Mr Trout brought on – one that I termed “The Screamer” because he sang a heavy-metal type song that I simply did not take to. If the entire concert had featured him, I would have had to walk out in the first 10 minutes, in sheer self-defence. Luckily he didn’t do much else. The other performer was an 18-year-old guitarist with whom Mr Trout had a “jamming” session. That was absolutely glorious too. After they had finished to a huge ovation, Mr Trout sighed and remarked “Today’s youth, what are they like. At 18 years I was wallowing in the mud of Woodstock, hallucinating. And look at him!”

Towards the end of the performance, Pete and I went up near the stage so that I could watch Mr Trout from close quarters and see just what a virtuoso he was on the guitar. (I had refused to leave my bar stool earlier for fear of losing it to someone else.) I was standing there mesmerised by the music while Pete took a few photos, when Mr Trout came to the edge of the stage, leaned down and beckoned to me. For a few seconds I just watched him blankly, not realizing that it was me he was gesturing forward. Then the penny dropped and I took a few steps towards him, only to have him hand his guitar “pick” (or plectrum) to me, still warm from his fingers – and possibly from all the friction with the strings! – as a souvenir of the concert. That was really unexpected, and I have to say I was thrilled to be picked out (should that be plectrumed out? * heheheh * sorry) like that.

Afterwards we went out into the lobby where they were selling CDs and t-shirts and Pete bought a souvenir T-shirt for me and the latest Walter Trout CD – which we got autographed by all four band members. We managed to talk for a couple of minutes with Mr Trout, and he was nice enough to remember me (perhaps because I was the only brown-skinned person there?) and say that I had looked so immersed in the music that he felt he should give me his pick. Which I thought very sweet of him. Even nicer, when he asked my name and made out his autograph on the CD to me.

Definitely a concert to remember... and is it any surprise that I am now Mr Trout’s lifetime fan? Not just for the music but also because he turned out to be such an unaffected, nice guy.


Swarna said...

WOW ...shyam. See Nice people get nice experiences.

Never ehard of Walter Trout, but now want to!!

Anonymous said...

Terrific Shyam - pics please !! maya

Kamini said...

Wow, what a lovely review, Shyam. I am going to hunt for Mr. Trout's music on I-Tunes - people like him should get all the support and appreciation they can get!