Legendary guitar hero Paul Gilbert plays local high school
Tonight, guitar player Paul Gilbert, formerly a member of band Racer X and Mr. Big, showed the crowd gathered at Tor Bridge High School in Estover, why he is known as one of the fastest men in the business.
Gilbert, who was voted number 4 on a list in GuitarOne magazine of the "Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time", was visiting Plymouth for a guitar clinic, arranged by World Class Music. It was one of two UK gigs for the American, who came straight to the South West from London where he played with fellow guitar hero Yngwie Malmsteen at a concert celebrating Marshall Amps 50'th anniversary.
"Yngwie showed me I have to get in shape. Not only did he play great, but he looked like he was swashbuckling pirates with his guitar at the same time," Paul Gilbert joked early on.
It set the tone for an informal evening, where the about 200 strong audience at the sold out event were treated to guitar tricks, stories and advice from American Paul Gilbert, who seemed relaxed and happy throughout the evening.
"Never play with a backing track, but get out there and play with other people," he said, having brought along his wife, Emi Gilbert on keyboard, local session bassist Rory Pearce and local session drummer Sean May to perform a number of songs.
The band didn't have the easiest of times due to technical difficulties, meaning they couldn't all hear each other at times. This led to a few false start and stops during a show that veered from feeling like an informal rehearsal session with 200 friends looking to the band gelling and delivering perfect, powerful songs.
During the show, Paul Gilbert talked about some of the music which had inspired him to be a musician and throughout his career, which is probably best known for the smash hit "To Be with You" (a number one single in 15 countries in 1991).
"I remember the first time I heard Rachmaninoff's fourth symphony. I was in the car and simply had to pull over, it had that much of an effect," he said.
Other influences included music from his youth using the shuffle beat and rock bands like AC/DC.
Both got an airing during the show, and the crowd was even treated to a Paul Gilbert interpretation of a Stevie Wonder song. Most of the way, he stayed pretty true to the original, but in the solo parts, it seemed like someone had taken Songs in the Key of Life and put metal rivets all over it - but still in a good and charming way.
World Class Music is a local organisation which showcases music from around the world in Plymouth. Their next event is November 10th, starring guitarist Ricky Graham.