PAT METHENY @ The Astor gets 9/10

Pat Metheny @ The Astor Theatre

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


Truly great jazz concerts in Perth are a very rare thing, and even more-so when the artists playing are the very best of what is on offer. The Pat Metheny Group have been a constant in the jazz scene since the late 70s and last night provided that wonderful mixture of going beyond expectations with a sense of surprise thrown in as well.  Although the Pat Metheny Group played tunes from Metheny’s entire career there was still that sense of surprise as this incarnation of the Pat Metheny Group brought new life and a new sound to tunes many in the audience would have had in their possession for years, especially those glorious early ECM albums.

The one constant about Pat Metheny is the sense of joy in his playing. He started the concert playing his 42-string Pikasso guitar, a sunny acoustic beginning to a wonderful concert, before the other members joined him on stage. Pat’s joyful playing was backed up by the most wonderful playing of Gwilym Simcock, a sort of European piano wunderkind that gets thrown up once in every generation, their duet on a tune from the album Pat Metheny Group was the sort of thing legends are made of. Other tunes from the albums The Falcon and the SnowmanOfframpOne Quiet Night had everyone in disbelief at the playing of the group. Linda May Han Oh, surely one of the funkiest bass players heard in Perth in a long time, provided a wonderful groove to all tunes on her double bass and no one will forget the powerhouse performance of Antonio Sanchez on drums, it sounded like a drum solo the whole night yet it remained some of the most musical drumming ever heard in Perth.

Metheny broke up the sound of his playing at one stage by playing an old favourite guitar most Metheny fans would recognise from the Offramp album, the Roland G 303 guitar synth, a soaring sounding synth which in his hands created what seemed like a tidal wave at times, rising to a crescendo and then pulling it back and then another crescendo, everyone was taken on the most wonderful musical and joyful ride that great music can create.

He then played duets with each of the group musicians, the duet with  Gwilym Simcock on piano was a tantalising journey on a tune from the album Pat Metheny Group, the duet with Linda May Han Oh on bass was the sort of thing that kept everyone in a joyful mood and finally, the drum duet with the Antonio Sanchez was surely a physics lesson on sound and movement, although never too loud, the sheer propulsion of his playing keeping the music moving ever forward.

The night ended too soon for the enthralled audience, first with one encore of Pat Metheny playing solo, another acoustic interlude – and even playing solo on an almost melancholic sounding tune, there was still a sense of joy in his playing. Metheny has a wonderful ability to make even the saddest of tunes sound like happiness is just around the corner. The second encore was the group again rollicking for all their worth, they were not going to end the night on a quiet note but played with the energy needed to save us all.

This was a night of wonderful jazz, the likes of which are not seen enough here in Perth, by a group made up of four musicians who had complete command of their instruments and had a complete love of what they were playing. Perth has suffered a drought up to now of great jazz, but that drought certainly broke last night.


Photos by Stuart McKay