Eric Johnson @ City Hall, Salisbury 8th April 2013
Yet another first for this reviewer, on two counts. My first visit to the City Hall and to see proof, if needed, that Eric Johnson is a star. With a tone that he has cultivated over forty years hard graft, the night only went to prove that the rock guitar solo is not dead. Johnson plays flashy yet tasteful leads with no hint of pretention or over-indulgence. A master of the fretboard, he prefers to use tone and styles akin to jazz (John Coltrane’s ‘Mr PC’) and country (the acoustic Song for Life, Divanae and Once Upon A Time In Texas), to colour his music, rather than being a ‘gunslinger’ indulging in endless shredding.
The audience (disappointingly low in numbers, it must be said) were in the upper age group and remained polite throughout the whole two hour set. Whilst the majority of the set was culled from the excellent new release Up Close Another Look CD, Johnsons freely delves into his vast back catalogue, appreciated after the first few bars. Special mention must be made at this juncture of the excellent rhythm section, long-standing cohort Chris Maresh on bass and the extremely proficient Wayne Salzmann on drums, blending as one most notably on the classics Last House On The Block and Desert Rose right the way through to closer When The Sun Meets The Sky – priceless! Brought back for the obligatory encore Cliffs Of Dover, ironically for the second time in a fortnight (Bonamassa did the same at the Borderline), Johnson did his take on Hendrix’s Are You Experienced , which, for me, didn’t quite come off. That’s not to say I was disappointed, far from it. I went away marvelling at Johnson’s charisma and his unique guitar sound.