Pete Oxley/Nicholas Meier – Lichfield Guildhall – Saturday 27th February 2016
With a stage liberally festooned with guitars, effects pedals, and amplifiers the guitar duo of Pete Oxley and Nicholas Meier gave a masterclass in inventive musicianship when they played at the Guildhall, as part of their tour to promote their latest release, Chasing Tales.
The duo are well known within certain circles, for their pastoral guitar instrumentals, that move between genres and continents, blending Arabic, and Turkish strains with more mainstream folk, rock and jazz based influences. Their long form instrumentals allowed for the development of moods, and sounds, with careful use of live looping adding to the mix, which always put musicianship and lyricism ahead of pure technique, which the two have in abundance.
The first half of the concert featured six pieces, whilst the second half was of five, showing the length of the pieces, and gave the concert more of a feel of a recital, with the audience being both comforted, and surprised by the sounds that the two could produce from their many instruments.
The opening The Followers was a duet for jazz guitar and 12 string acoustic, with some exciting unison playing as the song developed, whilst the more spirited Looking West was a fine duet for Nylon String guitars. Looping pedals were used to build up the sound, and the sense of menace in Chasing Kites, that moved through a number of time signatures, before a coda of pure exhilaration finished the song, whilst Riversides featured Nicholas Meier’s Glissenter, an 11 string, fretless guitar which has a sonorous colour that sounds more like a Oud, and allowed for some interesting note choices to be made, against the backdrop of Pete Oxley’s 12 string electric guitar, whilst a rare cover featured, when they played their own arrangement of Pat Metheny’s Travels. The closing piece, Compass Points was another long form piece, which allowed for interesting backing and chords behind an incisive melody.
The second half featured some older material, and a brand new piece that received its world premiere. Flight of Fancy came from the pair’s first album, whilst the broodingly menacing In Restless Repose was a showcase for Meier’s fretless guitar, whilst the set finished with an adaptation of Chick Corea’s Spain, moving the pianist masterly composition to guitar. An encore of a jazz duet, which blended an ambient backing with some fine soloing from both players showed the direction that the duo might go in, and was a fine way to finish a concert that fitted in so many moods, played with so many strings.