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Tommy Emmanuel takes on Johor PDF Print E-mail
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People and Festivals
Sunday, 31 October 2010 09:22


… and the Johor Arts scene will never be the same again, after the concert on 25th October at the Thistle Hotel, JB, under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Tebrau.

Opening for Tommy Emmanuel was popular Sabahan Roger Wang, lauded as Malaysia’s top finger picker style guitarist who warmed the crowd with his lyrical pieces, delighting his many fans. Roger introduced Tommy Emmanuel who ran onstage, plugged in and burst into a flaming rendition of I go to Rio which stunned the crowd into minutes of happy shock, as most of them had never heard him play before, even on CD.

Very soon the shock gave way to appreciation, then deep respect and even deeper delight as the JB audience applauded and hollered with each amazing run of precision fingering delivered note perfect and faster than can be imagined without actually experiencing it. ‘Indescribable’ was the description afterwards heard many times.

Tommy played song after song, some familiar like Nine pound hammer and from his many compositions that he played was Mombasa with unforgettable percussion segments all performed on his well-worn Maton guitar he calls “The Mouse” as he is also an accomplished drummer.

Throughout the performance Tommy cracked jokes and told little stories which the audience enjoyed. One of these was about playing with the late jazz guitar legend Les Paul at Carnegie Hall on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Tommy had asked Les Paul whom he had played with on that stage and been given a list of so many of the greats – Django Rheinhardt, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald… and one of whom was Judy Garland. Then Les Paul told him how she sang with so much emotion even she was in tears as was the entire audience. This intro was to Tommy’s own arrangement of the classic “Over the Rainbow”, with glorious harmonics at the introduction and at the end, bringing the piece to a conclusion to rapturous applause.

The audience were teased with a medley of Beatles hits leading into Classical gas, and while still gasping after more than an hour’s non-stop virtuosity, Roger Wang came back on stage and they played the Beatles’ Here, there and everywhere and a couple more sweet pieces to conclude the concert.

As Roger Wang said “I needed that Tommy fix!”. Johorians who attended this memorable concert will certainly spread the word, and if we are fortunate, Tommy Emmanuel will return annually to perform here, as he has done to sell-out audiences in Singapore these last five years.

* Tommy Emmanuel was once called "the greatest guitarist on the planet" by guitar legend Chet Atkins. Similar accolades have been given by Eric Clapton, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Les Paul and just about every great guitarist in the world. He is in his 50th year in showbusiness and has cut 20 albums of his own, with two Grammy nominations. He has been playing 300 concerts a year around the world and has millions of passionate fans. Tommy has produced 3 instructional videos: Guitar Talk (1993), Up Close (1996), Emmanuel Labor (2008). In 2010 he was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) (the equivalent of a knighthood) for his achievements in music and his philanthropy.