Review: John Williams and John Etheridge, Queen’s HAll

JOHN Williams fans will probably lynch me for this; likewise John Etheridge’s. But the big question about yesterday’s shared morning concert was: what did we gain from hearing both guitarists combine in music that had little else going for it than the fact it brought two great veterans of their respective genres together?

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“It’s an unusual time of day for us,” said Williams, giving support to the argument that the first half, entirely duetted, might have worked better as a late-night jam session. Even its opener, Francis Bebey’s Sangara, had all the awkward trappings of an acclimatising warm-up number.

Etheridge’s own Strange Comforts mixed melancholic jazz with a music box waltz; Williams’s Malinke Guitars struck atmosphere, but soon hit overkill, through its hypnotic repetitiveness. Paul Hart’s Ludwig’s Horse introduced cheeky upbeat funk as a welcome wake-up call for
the interval.

The second half gave us what was missing. Etheridge went solo, including a Charlie Mingus number, seasoned with cool, mellifluous impro on electric guitar. Williams’s classical set brought whiffs of sultry Latin American sensuality. All too brief, though, for they were soon reunited in Williams’s Extra Time, a mixed bag of disconnection that said it all.