Concert Review – Gordon Giltrap

Review by Ben Macnair

Photography by Dave Jones

With a career that goes back to the late 1960s, playing across a range of genres and several complicated compositions for Acoustic guitar, Gordon Giltrap was in his elements when he returned to play Lichfield Guildhall to an almost capacity crowd.
The stage was littered with acoustic, classical, and electric guitars, as well as a number of pedals. The first half consisted of solo acoustic pieces, such as an excellent reading of George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun, the blues and jazz-influenced Catwalk Blues, and the melancholic air of A Christmas Carol, before a set-closing composition that ranged from gentle, processed electric guitar chords, and added in layer after layer of harmony lines, and angry lead guitar to the mix. It was a tour-de-force performance in both composition and manual dexterity and shows why Gordon Giltrap is so revered by players such as Queen’s Brian May, The Who’s Pete Townshend, and Deep Purple’s Richie Blackmore.

For the second half, the guitar maestro was joined by the keyboard player Adam Parrish who proved himself to be more than equal to the task. The thought that had gone into the arrangements for the two musicians showed in such pieces as Maddie Goes West, the soundscape and sonic experimentalism of On Camber Sands, and the gentle ballad Sallie’s Song. The duo saved Giltrap’s best-known piece, Heartsong, which for years was the theme tune to the BBC’s Holiday Programme, and the duo treatment found nuances within the piece. A well-earned encore of Roots, which took in elements of folk, and blended it to progressive rock served as a beautiful reminder of the quality of Gordon Giltrap’s skills as a composer.

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