Phil Emmanuel @ Mansfield Tavern, 21.8.09


It’s a shame there weren’t more fans at this gig on Friday night to enjoy the welcome return of the brilliant guitarist to Brisbane’s live gig circuit. Not only did they miss out on the amazing musicianship of a man widely recognised as Australia’s Greatest Electric Guitar Player, but also the wide range of musical talent showcased on the night.

Proceedings kicked off with High Noon Heat, a rock band with more than a touch of blues. The line-up is lead guitarist, Steve Badger, drummer Rob Brown, Shane Fleury on bass and lead singer, Grant Byrnes who boasts what is quite possibly one of the finest voices on the local rock scene today. Their set opened with ‘I’m A Mover’ and the bluesy ‘My Pain’ and included the catchy self-titled ‘High Noon Heat’ and ‘Feelin’ Lucky’ (featured on the band’s recently released EP).

Up next was local band, 1989. Influenced by classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, their music is straight shooting rock and roll all the way. Songs including the opener ‘Straight To Ground’ and ‘Ain’t No Such Thing’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Limo Queen’. 1989. Singer Simon Vermeulen, guitarists Tommy Drake and Mark Haddon, bass player Jason Fuller and new drummer, Regan Ireland, exude great energy on stage and have built themselves a strong following.

There were four acts to get through on the night so let’s move right along to No.3 on the Agenda…. Strongly influenced by the music of legendary guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani (among others), Kevin Windross is, himself, an exceptionally talented guitarist. With the very capable support of bass player, Nick Danser and drummer ‘Slim’ Phil, Kevin’s heavy rock guitar set featured mostly his own compositions, including ‘Desert Princess’, ‘After The Storm’ and the melodic ‘Fisherman’s Bend’. It was a nice touch to end the set with the Cream classic, ‘Sunshine of Your Love’.

With the show running behind schedule, it was getting late when, finally, The Phil Emmanuel Band hit the stage, opening their set with a superb version of ‘Chariots of Fire’ before moving on to my personal favourite, The Shadows’ ‘The Rise and Fall of Fingal Bunt’, always a great tune to dance along to and certainly a fine demonstration of Phil’s excellent guitar playing skills. Although I had witnessed it all before (thanks to TV broadcasts and You Tube videos via the internet), to see the master perform up close and personal was, to put it mildly, a treat indeed! I watched, transfixed as those agile fingers literally made the guitar sing and could understand why there was no need for actual words. The band played a very different yet highly recognisable interpretation of Channel 9’s Cricket Theme and, speaking of ‘themes’, highlights included a medley of Western themes as well as a medley of James Bond themes, culminating in an awesome version of, arguably, everybody’s favourite 007 theme song, ‘Live and Let Die’, before launching into the Dire Straits’ song ‘Sultans of Swing’

The night finished a bit on the late side, probably to be expected with four bands on the bill, but those who decided to stick around to catch all of Phil’s set would not have been disappointed. The man proved, to one and all, that he has definitely earned the accolade of Australia’s Greatest Electric Guitar Player. Phil will be playing dates along the East Coast over the next couple of months. Why not go along and see the maestro at work for yourself?

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