Pat Metheny Group in Potsdam, NY
Senior Editor since 2004With the realization that there will always be more music coming at him than he can keep up with, John wonders why anyone would think that jazz is dead or dying.
Recent articles (2,368 total)
As on the Speaking of Now tour, Vu and Metheny utilizing his 42-string Pikasso guitar played an introduction to the first of two staples from the Metheny Group catalogue, "Are You Going With Me?," also from Offramp. The Pikasso, liberally treated with reverb, literally filled the concert space. When the group entered, Mays, who traditionally took a synthesizer solo that emulated a harmonica, traded solos with Maret on the real thing before Metheny took off with a soaring guitar synth solo that demonstrated how, while this tune has been on virtually every set list since it was first recorded, it clearly provides him with a vehicle where there is still something new to say.
The show closed with "The First Circle," a piece that is the closest thing to a "greatest hit" as the group has. Unlike "Are You Going With Me?," which is largely a solo feature, "The First Circle," barring a strong solo from Mays, is largely a through composed piece, and while unquestionably a dramatic set closer, could easily be dropped from the Metheny Group set list. Unlike "Are You Going With Me?" there seems to be little to add to this tune. Still, it was a rousing finish to a second half which was, for the most part, more about liberal reinterpretation than faithful recreation.
The group returned for an encore of "(It's Just) Talk," a tune from Still Life (talking) that hasn't been performed live in some time. With a strong Latin groove and powerful solos from everyone, it was the perfect end to an evening that combined the complex with the straightforward; the abstruse with the lyrical; and the faithfully reproduced with the more broadly reworked. A show that demonstrated not only the continuing power of the Metheny/Mays writing team, but that this incarnation of Pat Metheny Group may well be the most versatile and capable thus far in a career that has spanned 27 years and 13 recordings.
If the group's warm-up shows are meant to give them the opportunity to work out the snags and there were a few technical glitches then fans who attend the "official" tour dates are in for a big treat. One can only hope that Metheny chooses to record and release a concert DVD of, at the very least, the performance of The Way Up. Given its logistical complexities and inability to be perceived as anything other than the extended piece that it is (one doubts there will be a The Way Up medley on future tours), this is most likely the only tour where the piece will be performed, and documentation of the event is clearly essential.
For more information and tour dates, visit Pat Metheny Group on the web.