I had the pleasure of seeing Tommy Emmanuel perform live at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) this past Friday, June 27. Although I’ve heard many great things about Tommy Emmanuel as a guitarist and performer, I wasn’t all that familiar with his music. So, before the show, I listened to the samples on Amazon’s page for Emmanuel’s recently released Center Stage album. One of the reviewers for the album stated:
…if you ever get to see Tommy in a live performance, your life will be forever changed for the better.
After seeing the show, I can say that this is only a slight overstatement. This was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. And, for the most part, it was just Emmanuel on stage with his guitars. More than a show, this was an intimate experience with Tommy telling stories using his guitar. As you would expect with one of the best acoustic guitarists in the world, there was plenty of excellent guitar playing. But, the guitar playing never seemed superfluous. It always seemed to fit in with the feel of the song.
Not only is Emmanuel a great guitarist, he is a great performer. He engaged the audience and was quite funny and fun to watch. He played for over 2 hours and I could have sat for 2 more if he would have kept playing.
It may sound like I’m gushing, but that’s because I am. I was barely a casual Tommy Emmanuel fan before this show, but now I’m a believer. If you ever get a chance, do yourself a favor and go see Tommy Emmanuel in concert. Here’s a clip of Emmanuel playing a Beatles Medley:
I would like to emphasize that seeing him live is a totally different experience than listening to his albums, even his latest live album. The video clip you have is a great example, but still there is something about being there that just doesn’t compare to anything else. Tommy includes a lot of percussive work with his guitar (just look at all the wear), and his live sound is something you could never capture on an album. Looking around the audience, you see that everyone has the same big, goofy grin that is on your own face, or totally slack-jawed in disbelief. Absolutely one of the best guitarists and performers I’ve experienced.
Great guitarist, great performer and great composer. Like all great guitarists he makes it look so easy, I have the tab books for “Only” and “Endless” and I can assure you it is a LOT harder than it sounds, his phrasing and embellishments are so natural when he plays but are hard to replicate accurately.
@Jon – I can only imagine how difficult his pieces are to play. I’m looking forward to trying it for myself 🙂
@David – The “outback” stuff was incredible. Using just a guitar, he really took you into the world of the Australian aborigine. Absolutely incredible.