On a wintry, drizzly night in West London, a ray of light and warmth was provided by two acoustic veterans at the top of their game: the self-styled ‘guitar Wizard of Oz’ Tommy Emmanuel and his English sparring partner Martin Taylor.
This was the London date of their UK tour, ‘The Colonel & The Governor’, promoting their new album of the same name and drawing sell-out crowds from Belfast to Bristol.
After being cheered onto the stage by all three packed tiers the duo commenced a journey through the album’s toe-tapping standout tracks for the first hour with effortless ease, interspersed with humorous anecdotes about their guitars, London and its miserable weather.
Taking turns in playing rhythm and lead, Tommy was (as ever) visibly enjoying himself — occasionally meeting the audience’s whoopings with his own — while sidekick Taylor played off him with calm efficiency.
After the interval the pair performed some of their solo work individually: Tommy mesmerising the crowd with raucous standards including his famous Beatles medley, while Taylor struck a gentler note with his more jazz-influenced numbers.
Though the beginning of the set was marred by feedback problems, the finale was triumphant: Taylor invoking the West Indies with his calypso composition Down at Cocomo’s, punctuated by one of Tommy’s idiosyncratic percussion solos, slapping and thumping his instrument with semi-automatic gun rapidity.
An encore of Classical Gas and their infectious album closer concluded the virtuoso masterclass which saw even more punters than usual crowded around the CD merchandise desk in the exit foyer.
Another satisfied audience — roughly Tommy’s thousandth since 2010.
By Kris Griffiths
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