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Paul Gilbert, The Garage, Highbury, London
3rd November 2016

andy rawll
Andy Rawll

paul gilbert

The return to London of this acclaimed guitarist and educator in support of his excellent latest solo album 'I Can Destroy'. Best known for his fiery fingering with proto-shred monsters Racer-X and acrobatic fretwork with stadium guzzlers Mr Big, Paul Gilbert has an extensive solo career dating back as far as the pre-Millennium era. The current tour promises to revisit both the highlights of all stages of his career and to showcase the strength and diversity of his solo work, delivered with virtuoso aplomb.

It was a case of many happy returns for Paul Gilbert for his latest London show, as it came just two days shy of what bassist Pete Griffin described as a significantly nifty birthday. In support of typically eclectic but compelling 'I Can Destroy' album, Gilbert clicked into hyper-drive within less than a minute of arriving on stage with a blistering trifecta from the Racer X debut. This set the scene for the next twenty-five minutes, in a structured succession of the most monumental and physically unfeasible riffs known to man and subscribers to Guitarist magazine.

paul gilbert

At its conclusion, even the set-list title, 'Massive Medley' appeared a wholly inadequate description for the dazzling fretboard journey that chronicled Paul Gilbert's emergence as plucky shredder in 1986 through his mainstream success with Mr Big in the 90s and critically acclaimed solo career that started with the tentative 'King Of Clubs' in 1998 to this latest assured release from earlier this year.

At that point, most of the audience could've done with a lie-down or at the very least a post coital visit to the smoking area outside, but the godzillan medley was a mere appetizer and the band rocked straight into the main course where Paul and his trio of superheroes served-up the majority of the latest album, interspersed with selected meaty cuts from his more recent solo confections. Although not the lead track on the album, 'One Woman Too Many' has an insistent, fast funky groove that drove the set to further heights, complete with signature Makita drill bit on the solo coda.

paul gilbert

Following the catchy 'Goddamn Turn Signal' song ironically things did threaten to take a wrong turn with a faltering microphone submitting to defeat from sonic pounding it had received during the first thirty minutes of the show from the superb Thomas Lang. Although it slowed the momentum of the show, it gave Paul the welcome opportunity to engage the crowd with a totally improvised 'bass drum mic ain't working' song followed by Little Richard's 'Slipping And Sliding' which he said he often sings at home to his young son.

It also provided an opportunity to hear the immaculate stylings of Pete Griffin (the bass guy, not the Family Guy guy), who was superb throughout and in the company of Paul Gilbert and Thomas Lang that takes some big brass strings.

paul gilbert

With mic back in the band, like the throroughbred machine that it is, the dynamic trio roared back into top gear with further songs from the album, including the playfully entitled 'I'm Not The One (Who Wants To Be With You)' and 'Adventure And Trouble'. We also got a full rendering of the foreboding Racer X track 'Technical Difficulties'. In the light of the earlier mic issue, perhaps they should've demoted this track to the Medley and promoted the fabulous 'Scarified' back into the main set.

In addition to the popular punky closing track 'SVT' and with the eleven o'clock curfew lurking, the band had just enough time to squeeze in a great version of Hendrix's 'Red House' as a bonus. A stunning and exhilarating performance not only of technical mastery but also melodic and compositional genius.


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paul gilbert

Massive Medley (career-spanning selection of killer riffs: Racer X, My Big and solo)
One Woman Too Many
Everybody Use Your Goddamn Turn Signal
Bass Drum Microphone Ain't Working (improvised during technical interlude)
Slippin' And Slidin' (Little Richard cover - Impromptu song while mic being fixed)
Blues Just Saving My Life (first attempt, as final mic adjustments completed)
Woman Stop
Enemies (In Jail) (Vibrato)
I Can Destroy
Blues Just Saving My Life
Better Chords
Drum Solo
Technical Difficulties
I Am Not the One (Who Wants To Be With You)
Adventure And Trouble
Red House

paul gilbert


If you don't want to ruin the surprise of knowing which spectacular riffs make up the 30 minute Massive Medley that opens the show, look away now. Other read on, for a blow-by blow run-down:

Racer X
Street Lethal (Street Lethal) (1986)
Into The Night (Street Lethal)
Blowing Up The Radio (Street Lethal)
Scarified (Second Heat) (1987)

Mr Big
Take A Walk (Mr Big) (1989)
Anything For You (Mr Big)
Daddy, Brother, Lover... (Lean Into It) (1991)
Green-Tinted Sixties Mind (Lean Into It)
Nothing But Love (Bump Ahead) (1993)
A Little Too Loose (Lean Into It)

Champagne (King Of Clubs) 1998
Seven Impossible Days (unreleased solo composition, ended-up on Best of Mr Big)
Down To Mexico (Flying Dog) (1998)
Gilberto Concerto (Flying Dog)
Individually Twisted (Alligator Farm) (2000)
Girls Watching (Raw Blues Power) (2002)

Racer X
Snakebite (Technical Difficulties)
Fire Of Rock (Technical Difficulties)

Bliss (Burning organ) (2002)
I Like Rock (Burning Organ)

Racer X
Superheroes (Superheroes) (2000)
Viking Kong (Superheroes)

Boku No Atama (Spaceship One) (2005)
Spaceship One (Spaceship One)

Paul Gilbert Talks Clarinets, Chaka Khan, Brian May's Vibrato And Much More


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