Columbus, OH, Promowest Pavilion, June 16, 2005

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

For guitar player, wanna-bes and those who consider the guitar an orchestral instrument, prayers were answered as Eric Johnson came to Promowest Pavilion to play a 45-minute set in the opening slot for Buddy Guy.

 

With so much music today focused on a formula for radio acceptance, it is always nice to hear a musician who puts music first and plays for the love of playing. Strapped with his Fender Stratocaster, Johnson's fingers move over the strings like a lover feeling their partner after 10 years. There is a familiar knowledge yet a subtle intimacy that Johnson uses when playing his arsenal or guitar-driven rock.

Johnson appears on stage looking like a 1600s painted rendition of a traveling minstrel, with his blonde hair flowing and his gangly body looking comfortable in clothes that look fit for a squire. Johnson played a solid set with very little getting in the way of the music, and from the looks of all the air guitars being played in the audience, it was quite the epiphany for a non-guitar player. Where most shows you can hear people scream out the lyrics, Johnson's crowd silently tries to keep up with each chord he is playing, and the look is like that of a silent movie. A lot of motion and facial expressions with no noise.

 

Johnson, who was nominated for a Grammy with Alien Love Child, is on tour to support his upcoming record, Bloom. Unlike many guitar virtuosos, Johnson has the unique capability of being a very intricate and detailed player, but can produce a very accepting sound for those who are not living and breathing the guitar. Although Johnson was opening for Buddy Guy, he strayed from much of his blues-driven material and really played a set that was rooted in 70s rock. There was some mixing up of sounds and tempo, and that helped the 45 minutes blow by like an Alberta Clipper in the winter, leaving just a dusting in its wake, but within the brief storm, there was beauty and placidness mixed together.

Eric Johnson
 
Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson