Review: Pete Oxley and Nicholas Meier @ Lichfield Guildhall

With a stage liberally festooned with guitars, effects pedals, and amplifiers, the guitar duo of Pete Oxley and Nicholas Meier gave a masterclass in inventive musicianship when they played at the Guildhall.

The show was part of their tour to promote their latest release, Chasing Tales.

Pete Oxley and Nicholas Meier

Pete Oxley and Nicholas Meier

The duo are well known for their pastoral guitar instrumentals, that move between genres and continents, blending Arabic and Turkish strains with more mainstream folk, rock and jazz based influences.

Their long form instrumentals allowed for the development of moods and sounds, with careful use of live looping adding to the mix, which always put musicianship and lyricism ahead of pure technique.

The first half of the concert featured six pieces, while the second half was of five. This showed the length of the pieces and gave the concert more of a feel of a recital with the audience being both comforted and surprised by the sounds that the two could produce from their many instruments.

The opening The Followers was a duet for jazz guitar and 12 string acoustic, with some exciting unison playing as the song developed, before the more spirited Looking West was a fine duet for nylon string guitars.

Looping pedals were used to build up the sound and a sense of menace in Chasing Kites, while Riversides featured Nicholas Meier’s Glissenter, an 11 string fretless guitar which allowed for some interesting note choices to be made against the backdrop of Pete Oxley’s 12 string electric guitar.

A rare cover featured when they played their own arrangement of Pat Metheny’s Travels. The closing piece, Compass Points was another long form piece, which allowed for interesting backing and chords behind an incisive melody.

The second half featured some older material and a brand new piece that received its world premiere. Flight of Fancy came from the pair’s first album, while the broodingly menacing In Restless Repose was a showcase for Meier’s fretless guitar.

The set finished with an adaptation of Chick Corea’s Spain, moving the pianist’s masterly composition to guitar.

An encore of a jazz duet, which blended an ambient backing with some fine soloing from both players, showed the direction that the duo might go in and was a fine way to finish a concert that fitted in so many moods and was played with so many strings.

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