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Pat Metheny Group Heats Up Toronto

Alain Londes By

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Following its Buffalo appearance, the Pat Metheny Group performed its second concert of the anticipated world tour before a capacity crowd at the Hummingbird Center in Toronto on February 18. This was the same location where the group performed three years ago on the last world tour. Metheny recognized Toronto as a major center for the arts.


As the audience entered the concert hall and looked for their seats, they could already hear the Reichian introduction to the group's recent CD, The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005). Metheny started soloing on a quiet introduction with the distinct melody of the song "This is not America."? Cuong Vu, Grégoire Maret, and Nando Lauria walked through the crowd on their way to the stage and played toy instruments. Meanwhile, Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, and Antonio Sanchez took their positions in preparation for a great ride. Only the true fans in the crowd will have had the opportunity to hear the CD to the point where they could follow the music.


The Pat Metheny Group went right into The Way Up , the main event for the tour. The music followed the score closely with minor additional accentuations and variations. One is just amazed at how much music with different stylistic devices and motifs can be filled in over an hour. The group's energy was in evidence for all to see and feel. On at least two occasions, some pieces reached very loud crescendos that are not obvious by listening to the CD using regular headphones. As is customary in a live group performance, Pat Metheny uses various types of guitars and will switch from one to the other frequently. Stage handlers frequently shuttled guitars in order to optimize each of them to the fullest. Cuong Vu, Gérard Maret and Antonio Sanchez made key solo contributions to the score as well as adding texture to the show. In Part One, Cuong Vu showcased yet another set of stylistic devices. Earlier on, he joined Metheny in a fast tempo, note for note, and later offered an evocative trumpet solo while the rest of the band ensured a dominant presence.


After the first part of the show, the band beamed with a sense of accomplishment as the audience handed the members a well deserved standing ovation (one among many during the evening). Clearly the fans were expecting more. Among the tunes selected, Metheny offered familiar favorites such as "Last Train Home,"? "Minuano (Six Eight),"? "Roots of Coincidence,"? and "First Circle."? "Always and Forever"? from the Secret Story album (Geffen, 1990) seemed to be the logical choice for Grégoire Maret to play the harmonica. Toots Thielemans offered his talented sound on the original album back in 1992. Metheny also included smaller formations such as his duet with Antonio Sanchez which, similar to the previous world tour, added a hint of the guitarist's enjoyment of performing in his trio formations. After the first part of the show, the group could have continued with alternate tunes from its vast history to continue the great musical ride. This would have been a perfect night to shift away slightly from the predictable choices. Perhaps "Song For Bilbao"? or "To The End Of The World"? interspersed with quieter trio arrangements would have maintained the continued dynamism of The Way Up. A fitting tribute to Mark Ledford, a wonderful multi-instrumentalist and vocalist on previous Pat Metheny Group releases, would also have been an appropriate addition.



Nevertheless, the Pat Metheny Group provided a dedicated three hour performance that fans have come to expect and appreciate. Such concerts always generate new fans due in part to this group's unique sound and excitement. They will also keep asking for more and more.



For more information and tour dates, visit Pat Metheny Group on the web.


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