It can’t be easy being Gary Lucas. Often regarded as one of, if not the, very best guitarists of his generation, Lucas evidently has considerable expectations to live up to at every performance. In addition to simply just being able demonstrate his playing finesse; Lucas must also be aware that to walk away with the ‘best guitarist in the world’ award then surely you should be able to cross disciplines, genres and even equipment.
We’ll never know if Lucas (a former ‘Captain Beefheart’ member, ‘Gods and Monster’ founder, and sometime collaborator of rock gods (Jeff Buckley, John Cale, Nick Cave and Lou Reed to mention but four)) actually enjoys the challenge, but he certainly looks like he does.
Billed as an ‘evening with’, Lucas is happy to mix rock anecdotes with solo acoustic pieces, which he plays in a mixture of styles including flamenco, slide and jazz. Choosing Beefheart work alongside Gods tracks, Lucas happily blends his best-known work with perfect reconstructions of classical compositions originally designed for piano recitals. Tracks are played not only with a technical brilliance but also a depth of emotion which makes the tracks feel almost sacred and magical. Final track of the night ‘Children’s march ‘over the hills and far away’’ is a typical example of a complex composition which Lucas inverts onto a new instrument and manages to replicate. It’s utterly staggering.
Perhaps the greatest parts of the evening though are when Lucas puts down the classical guitar and picks up an electric one and multiple electric devices. Proving that Lucas is not a one-style pony, he is able to showcase his genius playing using the most modern of guitar technology and effects. If the challenge is to be the best in the world, and to remain relevant, then Lucas is certainly up for it.
It can’t be easy being Gary Lucas. But he certain makes it look like it is.