Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor
Saturday 2nd March 2013 – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine a Mt. Olympus of the world’s great guitarists. Then, imagine a great coliseum, wherein the finest virtuosos and aficionados all gathered to appreciate the most divine six-string artistry. Here, amongst this most heady, rarefied air, a special stage would surely be reserved for Tommy Emmanuel, such is the acclaim for his breath-taking mastery of the instrument. His uncanny ability to create such awe-inspiring music, coupled with his unparalleled enthusiasm and love of performance, make this brief sojourn to Belfast an absolutely essential concert for any music lover.
However, the Tommy Emmanuel show this is not. Moreover, tonight marks the first date in a U.K tour supporting the album “The Colonel and the Governor”, a collaboration between Tommy and long-time friend and fellow virtuoso, Martin Taylor, whose own resume boasts over 100 albums. In fact, Taylor’s musical pedigree is almost second to none, having recorded with Chet Atkins and at one time in his career deputised for the great Django Reinhardt.
Wasting little time, the pair immediately get feet tapping as they launch into new material, trading intricate rhythm and lead parts with the greatest of ease. Against the beautiful backdrop of the Ulster Hall, they seamlessly transition from delicate solo arrangements to full blooded, jazz-infused improvisation. There is little musical ground these two do not cover. All this while maintaining tremendous rapport with a hugely enthusiastic crowd, made for a musical event of the utmost class. Personal highlights included Emmanuel’s heart-warming ballad for his youngest daughter, “Angelina” and Taylor’s wonderfully creative “Down at Cocomo’s”. Perhaps there is a little too much extended noodling for the layman, but the guitarists in the crowd sit dumbstruck.
As proceedings draw to a close, with droves of stupidly grinning music fans flocking to the nearest pub, each with the last chords still resonating in their heads, there is reason to believe that this was a very special performance. With any luck, this won’t be the last we hear of Tommy and Martin.