Terry Riley has such a disarming old hippy presence that it was momentarily possible to forget that one was in the presence of a giant of minimalist composition.
Terry & Gyan Riley, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****
And then the playing began, with his son Gyan on guitar supplementing his father’s repeating piano patterns, adding querulous embellishments to some foreboding bass notes, or responding with urgent rock’n’roll signatures to his father’s relentless onslaught.
They made a modestly wondrous team, quickly widening the sonic palette to include some bright jazz outbursts, complemented by acid guitar tones and noodling textures which were always simpatico with the piano parts, before Riley Senior switched to a keyboard, triggering vocal samples to create a yearning sonic tapestry while his son manipulated his effects boxes.
The 83-year-old Riley wore his esteemed reputation lightly but he is a marvel, like a veteran marathon runner in tip-top shape because he has never got out of the habit of playing.
The fluent 90-minute programme was only briefly derailed by technical difficulties, with Riley Sr quipping: “This is the musical theatre part of our act.”
Such is the eclecticism of the music – from plaintive bluesy melodica to lighter, springier notes dovetailing into baroque synth paradiddles teamed with wah-wah guitar, from mellow romantic jazz piano chords to slide guitar which sounded like a mewling cat – that a jazz hands interlude might not have been all that surprising in this pleasure of a performance which packed rigour and character in equal measure. - Fiona Shepherd