Pat Metheny Group – Speaking of Live Now

Speaking of Live Now
Speaking of Live Now

Hard to believe, but we’ve been listening to Pat Metheny and his groups for almost three decades.

At times, we take ol’ Pat for granted. Face it, the guy’s an amazing guitarist. His band, usually anchored by him and keyboard pal Lyle Mays, is usually killer, and he almost always makes interesting records, with fascinating solos.

This DVD is a nice account of where Pat and his band are at this time. Clocking in at over two hours, with 15 tunes, there’s plenty of playing.

First and foremost, we must mention Pat’s playing. Whether playing one of his Ibanez hollowbodies, an acoustic, or that infernal synth-guitar, Pat breathes fire, emotionally, and is impeccable on the technical front. He and the band take a simple, beautiful tune like the Bossa Nova chestnut “Insenstez (How Insensitive)” and run through it like nobody else. Chorus after chorus of interesting soloing by Metheny anchors the whole thing.

You could say that about much of the set. His playing is always the highlight for me, but there are other great performances, too. Mays and Metheny at times appear joined at the hip, as one of Pat’s solos melts into a piano solo of similar intensity and feel. Steve Rodby, whether on electric, or acoustic, bass holds down the fort beautifully with drummer Antonio Sanchez. They all get to shine. In fact, among the highlights are a couple of duets Metheny plays with Sanchez. Special mention must also be made of Richard Bona. Bona’s soaring, otherworldly vocals(along with singer-trumpeter Cuong Vu) supply an aura of sound that helps define Metheny’s band at this point. Bona also supplies an amazing bass/scat solo on “Song For Bilbao.”

From a technical standpoint, a very nice job is done with the camerawork. The concert was shot over a two-day span in September of 2002 in Japan. The director, Takayuki Watanabe, gives beautiful shots of Metheny and the rest of the band. There are no extras, but with this much music, it’s hard to complain. Pat does tend to use odd stringed instruments, so an explanation would have been cool, but then, who besides equipment geeks would care?!

Also, the sound is wonderful in every respect. I used the DTS Digital Surround Sound on my system, and nuances common to this music sounded great. In all, this one’s a doozy. A must for fans of DVD and guitar.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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