Guitarists captivate crowds at Laxson Auditorium

Tommy Emmanuel rocks out on the guitar for audiences Thursday night at Laxson Auditorium.Photo credit: Annie Paige

It didn’t take long for acoustic guitarist Tommy Emmanuel to captivate his audience, as he opened up his performance with his award-winning song “Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag.” The audience quickly responded with whistles and hurrahs.

Guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor brought their musical string picking talents to Chico State for their 11th show on tour, in front of what appeared to be a sold out audience Thursday night in Laxson Auditorium.

For what seemed like a rather quick two and a half hours, Emmanuel and Taylor showcased a musical set that seemed to illustrate their passion for playing diverse musical genres.

Emmanuel started the night with a bang, impressing many in the audience with his interesting and technical style of guitar play.

The variety of sounds he was able to string together at once, along with the crisp sound that filled the auditorium, was enough to keep what the crowd constantly begging for more. Within ten minutes the audience went crazy as Emmanuel created beautiful sounding art with his skillful fingers.

After three solo songs, Emmanuel invited guest Bob Littell onto the stage to perform the harmonica for a few songs, most notably, a cover of “Georgia On My Mind.”

The two collaborated to create a deep, soulful blues sound that sounded so comforting the audience immediately felt obliged to applaud. After accepting the generosity, Littell thanked the crowd to exit stage left, leaving Emmanuel.

Trailing the display of his ability to play blues, Emmanuel followed up with two more songs — “Secret Love” and “Blood Brother.” He was able to showcase his mastery of the guitar as he transitioned from the soothing, romantic sound of “Secret Love” into the classical, hard rock sound that was captured in “Blood Brother.”

Intermission was held, allowing many in the audience to discuss the awe-inspiring performance.

Twenty minutes later, the lights dimmed and special guest guitarist Martin Taylor walked out onto the stage. After a short introduction Taylor performed a solo set list comprised of four songs. He was able to start with a soft, easy-going tempo and finish with an energetic, jazz-influenced style of rock.

Emmanuel then came out onto the stage, joining Taylor, and began delivering light-hearted jokes to add to the overall sensation of the event.

The two performed a set in which Taylor and Emmanuel exemplified how well their acoustic and jazz styles of rock compliment each other. They performed the song “Down at Cocomo’s,” which seemed to be a fan favorite, as a handful of people in the crowd stood up to groove to the funky rock.

Later in the set, Emmanuel performed an impressive guitar rendition of a drum solo that involved slapping and thumping his guitar, which caught the interest of the Laxson crowd.

Taylor exited the stage after generous applause and Emmanuel closed the night with a few more songs that encompassed his ability to easily transition from genres including rock, classical, jazz, folk and blues.

Emmanuel then gave his gratitude to the audience, musical guests and Sierra Nevada Brewery.

“It’s always a joy to come back to Chico,” he said. “Thank you!”

He then played his last song, “Halfway Home,” to close the night. It seemed to illustrate the warm memories of one’s childhood. After, the crowd gave a standing ovation worthy of the encore that Emmanuel came out to play.

After the encore Emmanuel took his final bow as he gave a peace sign to the crowd, ending his captivating performance.

Lindsey Anderson was one of the many attendees left in awe after the performance by Emmanuel and his guests.

It was amazing,” Anderson said. “My favorite part of the performance was how many different sounds could be made from just one guitar.

Michael Quiring can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.